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VEN.  LOUIS  OF  GRANADA,  O P. 


THE  SINNER’S  GUIDE 


Yen.  LOUIS  OF  GRANADA,  O.P. 


A NEW  AND  REVISED  TRANSLATION  BY  A 
FATHER  OF  THE  SAME  ORDER. 


BOSTON : 

T.  B.  NOONAN  & CO. 

BOSTON  COLLb?^i‘  Li  UKARY* 
CHESTNUT  HILL,  MASS, 


APPROBATIONS. 


Wt&tmus  et  Bpprobavimus : 

fk.  c.  h.  McKenna,  o.p., 

Fr.  J.  L.  O’NEIL,  O.P., 

Revisor es  Deputati. 

Neo-Eboraci,  Die  15  Novembris,  1883. 


imprimatur : 


Fr.  M.  D.  LILLY,  O.P., 

Pnor  Provincicdis, 

Provincice  S.  Joseph. 

Neo-Eboraci,  Die  15  Novembris,  1883. 


imprimatur : 


2 X 

■ l~7 


* JOHN  J.  WILLIAMS,  D.D., 

Archbishop  qf  Boston. 

By  his  Vicar-General. 

Boston,  November  22,  1883. 


Copyright,  1883,  by  C.  H.  McKenna. 


Brief  of  Our  Holy  Father  Gregory  XIII. 


To  our  well  beloved  Son , Louis  of  Granada , of  the  Order 
of  Friars  Preachers . 

GREGORY  PP.  XIII. 

Dearly  beloyed  Son,  Health  and  Apostolic  Bene- 
diction : 

Your  arduous  and  incessant  labors,  both  for  the  conver- 
sion of  sinners  and  for  the  guidance  of  souls  to  perfec- 
tion, together  with  the  valuable  assistance  you  render 
those  who  are  earnestly  engaged  in  the  work  of  the 
ministry,  have  always  afforded  us  great  consolation. 

Your  sermons  and  writings,  filled  with  sublime  doc- 
trine and  practical  piety,  are  unceasingly  drawing  souls 
to  God.  This  is  particularly  gratifying  to  us,  for  all  who 
have  profited  by  your  teaching  (and  their  number  is  very 
great)  may  be  considered  as  so  many  souls  gained  to 
Christ.  You  have  thus  benefited  your  fellow-creatures 
more  than  if  you  had  given  sight  to  the  blind  and  raised 
the  dead  to  life.  For  the  knowledge  of  the  Eternal  Light 
and  the  enjoyment  of  the  heavenly  life,  according  as  they 
are  given  to  man  on  earth  to  know  and  enjoy  them,  are 
far  above  the  knowledge  and  enjoyment  of  the  transitory 
goods  of  this  world. 

The  charity  with  which  you  have  devoted  yourself  to 
your  great  and  important  labor  has  gained  for  you  many 
crowns. 


2 Brief  of  Our  Holy  Father  Gregory , XIII. 


Continue,  then,  to  devote  all  your  energies  to  the  pro- 
secution of  your  undertakings.  Finish  what  you  have 
begun,  for  we  understand  that  you  have  some  works  yet 
incomplete.  Give  them  to  the  world  for  the  health  of 
the  sick,  for  the  strength  of  the  weak,  for  the  delight  of 
God’s  servants,  and  for  the  glory  of  the  Church  both 
militant  and  triumphant. 

Given  at  Rome  the  21st  of  July,  1582,  in  the  eleventh 
year  of  our  pontificate. 

ANT.  BUCCIPALULE. 


INTRODUCTION. 


THE  author  of  the  following  work  holds  a 
high  place  among  the  spiritual  writers  of 
the  Church.  Living  in  an  age  of  saints 
and  doctors.  Yen.  Louis  of  Granada  occupies  a 
remarkable  position  among  those  who,  during 
the  sixteenth  century,  illumined  the  Church, 
particularly  in  Spain,  by  their  sanctity  and 
learning. 

Though  he  has  not  been  canonized,  his  memo- 
ry is  in  benediction,  for  he  died  with  a reputa- 
tion for  undoubted  holiness,  and  time  has  con- 
firmed the  judgment  of  his  contemporaries. 

The  esteem  in  which  he  was  held  by  Pope 
Gregory  XIII.  and  St.  Charles  Borromeo  is 
well  known  to  readers  of  their  lives.  The  letter 
addressed  to  him  by  this  Pontiff,  which  is  pub- 
lished with  this  edition,  shows  how  Gregory 
appreciated  his  genius  and  piety,  and  what  a 
value  he  placed  on  his  services  to  the  Church. 
St.  Charles  used  his  works  almost  exclusively 
for  preaching.  Pope  Sixtus  Y.  offered  him  a 

3 


4 


Introduction . 


cardinal’s  hat,  but  he  refused  it,  as  well  as  the 
archbishopric  of  Braga,  the  primatial  see  of 
Portugal.  St.  Francis  de  Sales  was  also  a de- 
voted student  of  his  works,  and  highly  recom- 
mended them  to  others. 

Among  his  numerous  writings  the  “Sinner’s 
Guide”  is  one  of  the  most  practical.  For  more 
than  three  hundred  years  it  has  been  the  means 
of  enlightening  many  souls  and  leading  them 
in  the  path  of  true  justice.  It  has  been  trans- 
lated into  almost  every  European  language, 
besides  the  Chinese  and  Persian.  When  nam- 
ing the  work  the  author  doubtless  bore  in  mind 
the  declaration  of  St.  John,  that  we  have  all 
sinned  ; for  the  book  is  suitable  for  all,  whether 
sinners  or  just.  The  method  he  follows  is 
comprehensive,  embracing  the  entire  scope  of 
the  spiritual  life,  at  least  as  far  as  it  is  attained 
by  ordinary  Christians.  A special  merit  of  the 
“ Sinner’s  Guide  ” is  the  copious  use  the  author 
makes  of  Sacred  Scripture  and  the  Fathers. 
He  constantly  supports  his  teaching  by  these 
invincible  authorities. 

For  publishing  a work  of  this  kind  no  apolo- 
gy is  made.  The  need  of  good  books  was  never 
greater  than  at  present.  Hot  only  youth,  but 
old  age  untaught  by  experience,  rush  madly 
into  the  excesses  of  sensational  or  infidel  read- 


Introduction . 


5 


ing  and  vile  story-papers,  which  deprive  them 
of  all  relish  for  pious  or  solid  reading,  and 
finally  undermine  the  very  foundations  of  their 
virtue  and  faith.  As  an  aid  in  remedying  so 
great  an  evil  we  publish  the  “ Sinner’s  Guide,” 
confident  that  of  its  kind  nothing  superior  to  it 
has  been  written  since  its  author  first  gave  it 
to  the  world.  It  is  true  that  for  many  years 
it  has  been  before  the  English  public.  But  the 
translation  was  by  no  means  satisfactory.  The 
present  edition  is  a new  translation,  carefully 
revised,  rearranged,  and,  where  it  seemed  op- 
portune, also  abridged.  No  essential  changes, 
however,  have  been  made,  for  it  has  been  our 
desire  to  give  the  venerable  author’s  meaning 
in  its  substantial  fulness.  We  trust,  then,  that 
the  work  will  be  widely  circulated  solely  for  its 
intrinsic  merits  and  for  the  good  it  will  ac- 
complish. 

Convent  of  St.  Vincent  Ferrer, 

New  York,  Nov.  9,  1883. 

Feast  of  All  Saints  of  the  Dominican  Order. 


CONTENTS 


PAGE 

Brief  of  Oar  Holy  Father  Gregory  XIII., 1 

Introduction, 3 

CHAPTER  I. 

The  First  Motive  which  obliges  us  to  practise  Virtue  and 
to  serve  God  : His  Being  in  itself  and  the  excellence  of  His 
Perfections, 13 

CHAPTER  II. 

The  Second  Motive  for  practising  Virtue  : the  Benefit  of  our 
Creation, 26 

CHAPTER  III. 

The  Third  Motive  for  practising  Virtue:  the  Benefit  of  our  Pre- 
servation, and  the  Government  of  His  Providence,  . . 34 

CHAPTER  IV. 

The  Fourth  Motive  for  practising  Virtue : the  Inestimable 
Benefit  of  our  Redemption, 44 

CHAPTER  V. 

The  Fifth  Motive  for  practising  Virtue : the  Benefit  of  our 
Justification, 56 

CHAPTER  VI. 

The  Sixth  Motive  for  practising  Virtue  : the  Incomprehensible 

Benefit  of  Election, 70 

CHAPTER  VII. 

The  Seventh  Motive  for  practising  Virtue  : the  Thought  of 
Death,  the  First  of  the  Four  Last  Things,  ....  76 

7 


8 


Contents. 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

PAGE 

The  Eighth  Motive  for  practising  Virtue  : the  Thought  of  the 
Last  Judgment,  the  Second  of  the  Four  Last  Things,  . 87 

CHAPTER  IX. 

The  Ninth  Motive  for  practising  Virtue : the  Thought  of 
Heaven,  the  Third  of  the  Four  Last  Things,  ...  96 

CHAPTER  X. 

The  Tenth  Motive  for  practising  Virtue  : the  Thought  of  Hell, 

the  Fourth  of  the  Four  Last  Things, 107 

CHAPTER  XI. 

The  Eleventh  Motive  for  practising  Virtue  : the  Inestimable 
Advantages  promised  it  even  in  this  Life,  . . . .121 

CHAPTER  XII. 

The  First  Privilege  of  Virtue : God’s  fatherly  Care  of  the 
Just, 130 


CHAPTER  XIII. 

The  Second  Privilege  of  Virtue  : the  Grace  with  which  the 
Holy  Spirit  fills  the  Just, 144 

CHAPTER  XIV. 

The  Third  Privilege  of  Virtue  : the  Supernatural  Light  and 

Knowledge  granted  to  the  Just, 148 

CHAPTER  XV. 

The  Fourth  Privilege  of  Virtue  : the  Consolations  with  which 

the  Holy  Spirit  visits  the  Just, 156 

CHAPTER  XVI. 

The  Fifth  Privilege  of  Virtue : the  Peace  of  a Good  Con- 
science,   164 

CHAPTER  XVII. 

The  Sixth  Privilege  of  Virtue  : the  Confidence  of  the  Just,  . 172 


Contents . 


9 


CHAPTER  XVIII,  pAGE 

The  Seventh  Privilege  of  Virtue  : the  True  Liberty  of  the 
Just, 179 


CHAPTER  XIX. 

The  Eighth  Privilege  of  Virtue:  the  Peace  enjoyed  by  the 
Just, 195 


CHAPTER  XX. 

The  Ninth  Privilege  of  Virtue  : the  Manner  in  which  God 
hears  the  Prayers  of  the  Just, 204 


CHAPTER  XXI. 

The  Tenth  Privilege  of  Virtue  : the  Consolation  and  Assist- 
ance with  which  God  sustains  the  Just  in  their  Afflictions,  210 

CHAPTER  XXII. 

The  Eleventh  Privilege  of  Virtue  : God’s  Care  for  the  Temporal 
Needs  of  the  Just, 218 


CHAPTER  XXIII. 

The  Twelfth  Privilege  of  Virtue : the  Happy  Death  of  the 


Just, .227 

CHAPTER  XXIV. 

The  Folly  of  those  who  defer  their  Conversion,  ....  237 
CHAPTER  XXV. 


Of  those  who  defer  their  Conversion  until  the  Hour  of  Death,  249 
CHAPTER  XXVI. 

Of  those  who  continue  in  Sin,  trusting  in  the  Mercy  of  God,  264 
CHAPTER  XXVII. 


Of  those  who  allege  that  the  Path  of  Virtue  is  too  Difficult,  . 272 
CHAPTER  XXVIII. 

Of  those  who  refuse  to  practise  Virtue  because  they  love  the 
World, 291 


10 


Contents . 


CHAPTER  XXIX. 

PAGE 

The  ’ First  Remedy  against  Sin  : a Firm  Resolution  not  to 
commit  it, 315 

CHAPTER  XXX. 

Remedies  against  Pride, 323 

Section  I —General  Remedies, 323 

Section  II.— Particular  Remedies , ....  330 

CHAPTER  XXXI. 

Remedies  against  Covetousness, 334 

Section  I. — Against  Covetousness  in  General , . . 334 

Section  II  —Against  the  unjust  Detention  of  Another'' s 

Goods, 341 

CHAPTER  XXXH. 

Remedies  against  Lust, 344 

Section  I. — General  Remedies, 344 

Section  II.— Particular  Remedies , . . . .349 

CHAPTER  XXXIII. 

Remedies  against  Envy, 353 

CHAPTER  XXXIV. 

Remedies  against  Gluttony, 358 

CHAPTER  XXXV. 

Remedies  against  Anger  and  Hatred, 362 

CHAPTER  XXXVI. 

Remedies  against  Sloth, 368 

CHAPTER  XXXVII. 

Other  Sins  to  be  avoided, 374 

Section  I —On  taking  the  Name  of  Godin  Vain,  . 374 
Section  II. — On  Detraction  and  Raillery,  . . .376 

Section  III. — On  Rash  Judgments,  . . . .381 

Section  IV.— On  the  Commandments  of  the  Church , , 382 


Contents . 


11 


CHAPTER  XXXVIII. 

PAGE 

Venial  Sins, 384 

CHAPTER  XXXIX. 

Shorter  Remedies  against  Sins,  particularly  the  Seven  Deadly 
Sins, 385 

CHAPTER  XL. 

Three  Kinds  of  Virtues  in  which  the  Fulness  of  Justice  con- 
sists ; and,  first,  Man’s  Duty  to  himself,  ....  394 
Section  l.—Our  Threefold  Obligation  to  Virtue , . . 394 

Section  II. — The  Ref  or  matron  of  the  Body,  . . . 395 

Section  III.— Temperance, 399 

Section  IV. — The  Government  of  the  Senses,  . . 405 

Section  V. — The  Government  of  the  Tongue,  . . 407 

Section  VI.— The  Mortification  of  the  Passions,  . . 409 

Section  VII.— The  Reformation  of  the  Will,  . . 412 

Section  VIII. — The  Government  of  the  Imagination,  . 414 
Section  IX  — The  Government  of  the  Understanding,  416 
Section  X. — Prudence  in  Temporal  Affairs, . . . 419 

Section  XL.— Means  of  acquiring  this  Virtue , . . 421 

CHAPTER  XLI. 

Man’s  Duty  to  his  Neighbor, 423 

CHAPTER  XLII. 

Man’s  Duty  to  God, 429 

Section  I.— Man's  Duties  in  General,  . . . .429 

Section  II .—The  Love  of  God, 430 

Section  III.—  The  Fear  of  God, 430 

Section  IV.—  Confidence  in  God, 432 

Section  V. — Zeal  for  the  Glory  of  God,  . . . 433 

Section  VI—  Purity  of  Intention, 434 

Section  VII.— Prayer, 436 

Section  VIII.— Gratitude, 436 

Section  IX.— Obedience, 437 

Section  X— Patience  in  Afflictions , ....  444 


12 


Contents . 


chapter  xmi. 

PAGE 

The  Obligations  of  our  State, 450 

CHAPTER  XLIV. 

The  Relative  Importance  and  Value  of  the  Virtues,  . . .454 

CHAPTER  XLV. 

Four  Important  Results  of  the  Preceding  Doctrine,  . . . 459 

Section  I. — The  Necessity  of  Exteiior  as  well  as  In- 

ierioi • Virtues, 459 

Section  H— Discernment  in  the  Pursuit  of  Virtue , . 4G0 

Section  III  —Virtues  that  are  Less  must  sometimes 

yield  to  those  that  are  Greater , . . 461 

Section  W.—T/ue  and  False  Justice,  . . . .462 

CHAPTER  XLVI. 

The  Different  Vocations  in  the  Church, 470 

CHAPTER  XLVn. 

The  Vigilance  and  Care  necessary  in  the  Practice  of  Virtue,  . 477 
CHAPTER  XLVIII. 

The  Courage  necessary  in  the  Practice  of  Virtue,  . . . 479 

Section  I. — The  Necessity  of  Courage,  ....  479 
Section  II.— Means  of  acquiring  Courage , . . .482 


THE  SINNER’S  GUIDE. 


CHAPTER  I. 

THE  FIRST  MOTIVE  WHICH  OBLIGES  US  TO  PRAC- 
TISE VIRTUE  AND  TO  SERVE  GOD  : HIS  BEING 
IN  ITSELF  AND  THE  EXCELLENCE  OF  HIS  PER- 
FECTIONS. 

TWO  things,  Christian  reader,  particularly  ex- 
cite the  will  of  man  to  good.  A principle 
of  justice  is  one,  the  other  the  profit  we 
may  derive  therefrom.  All  wise  men,  there- 
fore, agree  that  justice  and  profit  are  the  two 
most  powerful  inducements  to  move  our  wills 
to  any  undertaking.  Now,  though  men  seek 
profit  more  frequently  than  justice,  yet  justice 
is  in  itself  more  powerful ; for,  as  Aristotle 
teaches,  no  worldly  advantage  can  equal  the 
excellence  of  virtue,  nor  is  any  loss  so  great 
that  a wise  man  should  not  suffer  it  rather 
than  yield  to  vice.  The  design  of  this  book 
being  to  win  men  to  virtue,  we  shall  begin  by 
showing  our  obligation  to  practise  it  because 
of  the  duty  we  owe  to  God.  God  being  essen- 
tially goodness  and  beauty,  there  is  nothing 

13 


14 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


more  pleasing  to  Him  than  virtue,  nothing  He 
more  earnestly  requires.  Let  us  first  seriously 
consider  upon  what  grounds  God  demands  this 
tribute  from  us. 

But  as  these  are  innumerable,  we  shall  only 
treat  of  the  six  principal  motives  which  claim 
for  God  all  that  man  is  or  all  that  man  can  do. 
The  first,  the  greatest,  and  the  most  inexplicable 
is  the  very  essence  of  God,  embracing  His  infinite 
majesty,  goodness,  mercy,  justice,  wisdom,  om- 
nipotence, excellence,  beauty,  fidelity,  immuta- 
bility, sweetness,  truth,  beatitude,  and  all  the 
inexhaustible  riches  and  perfections  contained 
in  the  Divine  Being.  All  these  are  so  great  that 
if  the  whole  world,  according  to  St.  Augustine, 
were  full  of  books,  if  the  sea  were  turned  to  ink, 
and  every  creature  employed  in  writing,  the 
books  would  be  filled,  the  sea  would  be  drained, 
and  the  writers  would  be  exhausted  before  any 
one  of  His  perfections  could  be  adequately  ex- 
pressed. The  same  Doctor  adds  : “ Were  any 
man  created  with  a heart  as  large  and  capacious 
as  the  hearts  of  all  men  together,  and  if  he  were 
enabled  by  an  extraordinary  light  to  apprehend 
one  of  the  divine  attributes,  his  joy  and  delight 
would  be  such  that,  unless  supported  by  special 
assistance  from  God,  he  could  not  endure  them.” 

This,  then,  is  the  first  and  chief  reason  which 
obliges  us  to  love  and  serve  God.  It  is  a truth 
so  universally  acknowledged  that  even  the  Epi- 
cureans, wdio  endeavored  to  destroy  all  philo- 
sophy by  denying  a Divine  Providence  and  the 
immortality  of  the  soul,  maintained,  neverthe- 
less, religion,  or  the  worship  due  to  God.  One 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


15 


of  these  philosophers  * proves  the  existence  of 
God  by  strong  and  undeniable  arguments.  lie 
proclaims  the  greatness  and  sovereignty  of  His 
admirable  perfections,  which  oblige  us  to  reve- 
rence and  adore  Him,  and  shows  that  for  this 
reason  alone,  independently  of  any  other  title, 
God  has  a right  to  our  love  and  service.  If  we 
treat  a king,  even  out  of  his  own  dominion,  with 
respect  and  honor  purely  because  of  the  dignity 
of  his  person,  though  we  owe  him  nothing, 
with  how  much  more  justice  should  we  render 
honor  and  service  to  this  King  and  Lord,  Who, 
as  St.  John  tells  us,  bears  written  “upon  His 
garment  and  upon  His  thigh,  King  of  Kings  and 
Lord  of  Lords  ” ! f This  is  He  who  hath  “poised 
with  three  fingers  the  bulk  of  the  earth.”  J All 
beings  are  in  His  power;  He  disposes  of  them 
as  He  wills.  It  is  He  who  propels  the  hea- 
venly bodies,  commands  the  winds,  changes  the 
seasons,  guides  the  elements,  distributes  the 
waters,  controls  the  stars,  creates  all  things ; it 
is  He,  in  fine,  Who,  as  King  and  Lord  of  the 
universe,  maintains  and  nourishes  all  creatures. 
Nor  is  His  kingdom  acquired  or  inherited. 
By  His  very  nature  it  is  for  Him  an  inherent 
right.  Just  as  man  is  above  the  ant,  for  exam- 
ple, so  is  the  divine  substance  in  an  eminent  de- 
gree above  all  created  beings,  and  the  whole  uni- 
verse is  no  more  than  one  of  these  little  insects 
compared  to  Him.  If  this  truth  were  so  mani- 
fest to  the  Epicureans,  otherwise  unworthy  of  the 
name  of  philosophers,  how  much  clearer  ought 

* See  Cicero,  “De  Natura  Deorum.'” 
t Apoc.  xix.  16.  % Isa.  xl.  12. 


1 G 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


it  not  be  to  us,  who  have  been  illumined  by  the 
light  of  true  Christian  philosophy  ! For  this 
latter  teaches  us,  in  fact,  that  among  the  innu- 
merable reasons  which  oblige  us  to  serve  God, 
this  is  the  greatest ; and  though  man  were  en- 
dowed with  a thousand  hearts  and  a thousand 
bodies,  this  reason  alone  should  be  sufficient  t*o 
cause  him  to  devote  them  all  to  His  love  and 
service. 

Though  of  all  motives  this  is  the  most  power- 
ful, yet  it  has  least  influence  on  the  imperfect. 
The  reason  of  this  is  because,  on  the  one  hand, 
they  are  more  moved  by  self-interest,  self-love 
having  deep  root  in  their  hearts  ; and  on  the 
other,  being  still  ignorant,  and  novices  in  the 
ways  of  God,  they  are  unable  to  appreciate  His 
grandeur  and  beauty.  Had  they  a better  know- 
ledge of  His  perfections,  His  beauty  would  en- 
rapture their  souls  and  cause  them  to  love  Him 
above  all  things.  Therefore  we  shall  furnish 
some  considerations  from  the  mystical  theology 
of  St.  Denis  which  will  help  them  to  apprehend 
the  perfections  of  the  Master  they  serve.  To 
lead  us  to  a knowledge  of  God,  St.  Denis  teaches 
us  first  to  turn  our  ejTes  from  the  qualities  or 
perfections  of  creatures,  lest  we  be  tempted 
to  measure  by  them  the  perfections  of  the 
Creator.  Then,  turning  from  the  things  of 
earth,  he  raises  our  souls  to  the  contemplation 
of  a Being  above  all  beings,  a Substance  above 
all  substances,  a Light  above  all  lights — or  rather 
a Light  before  which  all  light  is  darkness — a 
Beauty  above  all  beauties  and  before  which  all 
other  beauty  is  but  deformity.  This  is  what  we 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


17 


are  taught  by  the  cloud  into  which  Moses  entered 
to  converse  with  God,  and  which  shut  out  from 
his  senses  all  that  was  not  God.*  And  the 
action  of  Elias,  covering  his  face  with  his  cloak 
when  he  saw  the  glory  of  God  passing  before  him, 
is  a lively  expression  of  the  same  sentiment. f 
Therefore,  to  contemplate  the  glory  of  God,  man 
must  close  his  eyes  to  earthly  things,  which  bear 
no  proportion  to  this  supreme  Being. 

We  shall  better  understand  this  truth  if  we 
consider  with  more  attention  the  vast  difference 
between  this  uncreated  Being  and  all  other  be- 
ings, between  the  Creator  and  His  creatures. 
The  latter  without  exception  have  had  a begin- 
ning and  may  have  an  end,  while  this  eternal 
Being  is  without  beginning  and  without  end. 
They  all  acknowledge  a superior  and  depend 
upon  another,  while  He  has  no  superior  and  is 
the  supreme  Arbiter  of  all  things.  Creatures 
are  composed  of  various  substances,  while  He  is 
a pure  and  simple  Being ; were  He  composed  of 
diverse  substances  it  would  presuppose  a being 
above  and  before  Him  to  ordain  the  composition 
of  these  substances,  which  is  altogether  impos- 
sible. Creatures  are  subject  to  change  ; God  is 
immutable.  They  all  admit  of  greater  perfec- 
tion ; they  can  increase  in  possessions,  in  know- 
ledge. God  cannot  increase  in  perfection,  con- 
tainingwithin  Himself  all  perfection  ; nor  in  pos- 
sessions, for  He  is  the  source  of  all  riches  ; nor 
in  knowledge,  for  everything  is  present  to  His 
eternal  omniscience.  Therefore  Aristotle  calls 
Him  a pure  act — that  is,  supreme  perfection, 

* Exod.  xxiv.  16,  18.  t 3 Kings  xix.  13. 

i 


18 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


which  admits  of  no  increase.  The  needs  of 
creatures  subject  them  to  movement  and  change  ; 
God,  having  no  necessities,  is  fixed  and  immov- 
able, and  present  in  all  places.  We  find  in  all 
creatures  diversities  which  distinguish  them  one 
from  another,  but  the  purity  of  God’s  essence 
admits  of  no  distinction  ; so  that  His  being 
is  His  essence,  His  essence  is  His  power,  His 
power  is  His  will,  His  will  is  His  understand- 
ing, His  understanding  is  His  being,  His  being 
is  His  wisdom,  His  wisdom  is  His  justice,  His 
justice  is  His  mercy.  And  though  t lie  last  two 
attributes  are  differently  manifested,  the  duty 
of  mercy  being  to  pardon,  that  of  justice  to 
punish,  yet  they  are  one  and  the  same  power. 

The  Divine  Being  thus  comprises  in  its  unity 
apparently  opposite  qualities  and  perfections 
which  we  can  never  sufficiently  admire  ; for,  as 
St.  Augustine  observes,*  “He  is  a profoundly 
hidden  God,  yet  everywhere  present ; He  is  es- 
sentially strength  and  beauty  ; He  is  immut- 
able and  incomprehensible  ; He  is  beyond  all 
space,  yet  fills  all  the  universe  ; invisible,  yet 
manifest  to  all  creatures  ; producing  all  motion, 
yet  is  Himself  immovable  ; always  in  action,  yet 
ever  at  rest,  He  fills  all  ^things  and  is  circum- 
scribed by  nothing  ; He  provides  for  all  things 
without  the  least  solicitude  ; He  is  great  with- 
out quantity,  therefore  He  is  immense ; He  is 
good  without  qualification,  and  therefore  He 
is  the  Supreme  Good.”  Nay,  “He  alone  is 
good.”f  Finally,  all  created  things  have  a 
limited  being,  their  power  is  equally  limited  ; 

* “Meditations,”  chaps,  xix.  and  xx.  + Matt.  xix.  17. 


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19 


the  works  they  accomplish,  the  space  they  fill, 
their  very  names,  are  no  less  limited.  Human 
words  can  define  them  ; they  can  be  assigned 
a certain  character  and  reduced  to  a certain 
species.  But  the  Divine  Substance  cannot  be 
defined  nor  comprehended  under  any  species, 
nor  can  it  be  confined  to  any  place,  nor  can  any 
name  express  it.  Though  nameless,  therefore, 
as  St.  Denis  says,  it  yet  has  all  possible  names, 
since  it  possesses  in  itself  all  the  perfections 
expressed  by  these  names. 

As  limited  beings,  therefore,  creatures  can 
be  comprehended  ; but  the  divine  essence,  being 
infinite,  is  beyond  the  reach  of  any  created  un- 
derstanding. For  that  which  is  limitless,  says 
Aristotle,  can  only  be  grasped  by  an  infinite 
understanding.  As  a man  on  the  shore  beholds 
the  sea,  yet  cannot  measure  its  depth  or  vast- 
ness, so  the  blessed  spirits  and  all  the  elect  con- 
template God,  yet  cannot  fathom  the  abyss  of 
His  greatness  nor  measure  the  duration  of  His 
eternity.  For  this  reason  also  God  is  repre- 
sented “seated  upon  the  cherubim/5*  who, 
though  filled  with  treasures  of  divine  wisdom, 
continue  beneath  His  majesty  and  power,  which 
it  is  not  given  them  to  grasp  or  understand. 

This  is  what  David  teaches  when  he  tells  us 
that  God  “made  darkness  His  covert 55  ;f  or, 
as  the  Apostle  more  clearly  expresses  it,  He 
“ inhabiteth  light  inaccessible.’5  J The  prophet 
calls  this  light  darkness  because  it  dazzles  and 
blinds  our  human  vision.  Nothing  is  more  re- 

* Dan.  iii.  55  and  Ps.  xvii.  11. 
t Ps.  xvii.  12.  % 1 Tim.  vi.  16. 


20 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


splendent  and  more  visi-le  than  the  sun,  as  a 
philosopher  admirably  n marks,  yet  because  of 
his  very  splendor  and  t)  e weakness  of  our  vi- 
sion there  is  nothing  upon  which  we  can  gaze 
less.  So  also  there  is  no  being  more  intelligible 
in  itself  than  God,  and  yet  none  we  understand 
less  in  this  present  life. 

Know,  therefore,  you  who  aspire  to  a know- 
ledge of  God,  that  He  is  a Being  superior  to  any- 
thing you  can  conceive.  The  more  sensible  you 
are  of  your  inability  to  comprehend  Him,  the 
more  you  will  have  advanced  in  a knowledge  of 
His  Being.  Thus  St.  Gregory,  commenting  on 
these  words  of  Job  : * “ Who  doth  great  things 
unsearchable,  and  wonderful  things  without 
number, ” says:  “We  never  more  eloquently 
praise  the  works  of  the  Almighty  than  when 
our  tongue  is  mute  in  rapt  wonder;  silence  is 
the  only  adequate  praise  when  words  are  power- 
less to  express  the  perfections  we  would  extol.” 
St.  Denis  also  tells  us  to  honor  with  mute  venera- 
tion, and  a silence  full  of  love  and  fear,  the 
wonders  and  glory  of  God,  before  Whom  the 
most  sublime  intelligences  are  prostrate.  The 
holy  Doctor  seems  to  allude  here  to  the  words 
of  the  prophet  as  translated  by  St.  Jerome, 
“Praise  is  mute  before  thee,  God  of  Sion,” 
giving  us  to  understand,  doubtless,  that  the 
most  adequate  praise  is  a modest  and  respectful 
silence  springing  from  the  conviction  of  our  in- 
ability to  comprehend  God.  We  thus  confess 
the  incomprehensible  grandeur  and  sovereign 
majesty  of  Him  Whose  being  is  above  all  being, 

* Job.  v.  9. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


21 


Whose  power  is  above  all  power,  Whose  glory 
is  above  all  glory,  Whose  substance  is  immea- 
surably raised  above  all  other  substances,  visi- 
ble or  invisible.  Upon  this  point  St.  Augus- 
tine lias  said  with  much  beauty  and  force : 
“ When  I seek  my  God  I seek  not  corporal 
grace,  nor  transient  beauty,  nor  splendor,  nor 
melodious  sound,  nor  sweet  fragrance  of  flowers, 
nor  odorous  essence,  nor  honeyed  manna,  nor 
grace  of  form,  nor  anything  pleasing  to  the 
flesh.  None  of  these  things  do  I seek  when  I 
seek  my  God.  But  I seek  a light  exceeding  all 
light,  which  the  eyes  cannot  see  ; a voice  sweet- 
er than  all  sound,  which  the  ear  cannot  hear;  a 
sweetness  above  all  sweetness,  which  the  tongue 
cannot  taste  ; a fragrance  above  all  fragrance, 
which  the  senses  cannot  perceive  ; a mysterious 
and  divine  embrace,  which  the  body  cannot  feel. 
For  this  light  shines  without  radiance,  this  voice 
is  heard  without  striking  the  air,  this  fragrance 
is  perceived  though  the  wind  does  not  bear  it, 
this  taste  inebriates  with  no  palate  to  relish  it, 
and  this  embrace  is  felt  in  the  centre  of  the 
soul.”* 

If  you  would  have  farther  proof  of  the  in- 
finite power  and  greatness  of  God,  contemplate 
the  order  and  beauty  of  the  world.  Let  us 
first  bear  in  mind,  as  St.  Denis  tells  us,  that 
effects  are  proportioned  to  their  cause,  and  then 
consider  the  admirable  order,  marvellous  beauty, 
and  incomprehensible  grandeur  of  the  universe. 
There  are  stars  in  heaven  several  hundred  times 
larger  than  the  earth  and  sea  together.  Con- 

* “ Conf.,”  1.  x.  c.  6.  “ Solil.,”  c.  xxxi. 


22 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


sider  also  the  infinite  variety  of  creatures  in 
all  parts  of  the  world,  on  the  earth,  in  the 
air,  and  in  the  water,  each  with  an  organization 
so  perfect  that  never  has  there  been  discovered 
in  them  anything  superfluous  or  not  suited  to 
the  end  for  which  they  are  destined ; and  this 
truth  is  in  no  way  weakened  by  the  existence  of 
monsters  which  are  but  distortions  of  nature, 
due  to  the  imperfection  of  created  causes.  And 
this  vast  and  majestic  universe  God  created  in 
a single,  instant,  according  to  the  opinion  of  St. 
Augustine  and  St.  Clement  of  Alexandria  ; from 
nothing  He  drew  being,  without  matter  or  ele- 
ment, instrument  or  model,  unlimited  by  time 
or  space.  He  created  the  whole  world  and  all 
that  is  contained  therein  by  a single  act  of  His 
will.  And  He  could  as  easily  have  created  mil- 
lions of  worlds  greater,  more  beautiful,  and 
more  populous  than  ours,  and  as  easily  reduce 
them  again  to  nothing. 

Since,  therefore,  according  to  St.  Denis,  ef- 
fects bear  a proportion  to  their  cause,  what 
must  be  the  power  of  a cause  which  has  pro- 
duced such  effects  ? Yet  all  these  great  and 
perfect  works  are  vastly  inferior  to  their  Divine 
Author.  Who  could  not  but  be  filled  with  admi- 
ration and  astonishment  in  contemplating  the 
greatness  of  such  a Being  ? Though  we  can- 
not see  it  with  our  corporal  eyes,  yet  the  re- 
flections we  have  just  indicated  must  enable  us 
in  a measure  to  conceive  the  grandeur  and  in- 
comprehensibility of  His  power. 

St.  Thomas,  in  his  “ Sum  of  Theology,”  en- 
deavors by  the  following  argument  to  give  us 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


23 


some  idea  of  the  immensity  of  God  : We  see, 
he  tells  us,  that  in  material  things  that  which  ex- 
cels in  perfection  also  excels  in  quantity.  Thus 
the  water  is  greater  than  the  earth,  the  air  is 
greater  than  the  water,  and  fire  is  greater  than 
the  air.  The  first  heaven  is  more  extensive 
than  the  element  of  fire,  the  second  heaven  is 
more  extensive  than  the  first,  the  third  likewise 
exceeds  the  second,  and  so  of  the  others  till  wre 
come  to  the  tenth  sphere,  or  the  empyreal  hea- 
ven, to  the  grandeur  and  beauty  of  which  no- 
thing in  the  universe  can  be  compared.  Con- 
sequently the  empyreal  heavens,  the  finest  and 
noblest  of  all  the  bodies  which  compose  the 
universe,  being  incomparably  greater  than  all 
the  rest,  we  may  infer,  adds  the  Angelic  Doc- 
tor, how  far  God,  the  first,  the  greatest,  the 
most  perfect  of  all  beings,  spiritual  or  corporal, 
and  the  Creator  of  all,  exceeds  them,  not  in 
material  quantity — for  He  is  a pure  spirit — but 
in  every  possible  perfection. 

Thus  we  begin  to  understand,  in  some  man- 
ner, what  are  the  perfections  of  God,  since  they 
cannot  but  be  in  proportion  to  His  being.  For, 
as  we  read  in  Ecclesiasticus  : * “ According  to 
His  greatness,  so  also  is  His  mercy  with  Him.” 
Nor  are  any  of  His  other  attributes  less.  Hence 
He  is  infinitely  wise,  infinitely  merciful,  infi- 
nitely just,  infinitely  good,  and,  therefore,  infi- 
nitely worthy  to  be  obeyed,  feared,  and  reve- 
renced by  all  creatures.  Were  the  human  heart 
capable  of  infinite  homage,  infinite  love,  it 
should  offer  them  to  this  supreme  Master.  For 

* Ecclus.  ii.  23. 


24 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


if  reverence  and  homage  must  be  proportioned 
to  the  greatness  and  dignity  of  him  to  whom 
they  are  offered,  then  the  homage  we  offer  God 
should,  if  we  were  capable  of  it,  be  infinite  also. 

How  great,  then,  is  our  obligation  to  love 
God,  had  He  no  other  title  to  our  love  and  ser- 
vice ! What  can  he  love  who  does  not  love 
such  Goodness  ? What  can  he  fear  who  does 
not  fear  this  infinite  Majesty  ? Whom  will  he 
serve  who  refuses  to  serve  such  a Master  ? And 
why  was  our  will  given  to  us,  if  not  to  embrace 
and  love  good  ? If,  therefore,  this  great  God 
be  the  Sovereign  Good,  why  does  not  our  will 
embrace  it  before  all  other  goods  ? If  it  be  a 
great  evil  not  to  love  and  reverence  Him  above 
all  things,  who  can  express  the  crime  of  those 
who  love  everything  better  than  they  love 
Him  ? It  is  almost  incredible  that  the  malice 
and  blindness  of  man  can  go  so  far ; but  yet, 
alas  ! how  many  there  are  who  for  a base  plea- 
sure, for  an  imaginary  point  of  honor,  for  a vile 
and  sordid  interest,  continually  offend  this  So- 
vereign Goodness  ! There  are  others  who  go 
farther  and  sin  without  any  of  these  motives, 
through  pure  malice  or  habit.  Oh  ! incompre- 
hensible blindness  ! Oh  ! more  than  brute  stu- 
pidity ! Oh  ! rashness,  oh  ! folly  worthy  of 
demons!  AVhat  is  the  chastisement  propor- 
tioned to  the  crime  of  those  who  thus  despise 
their  Maker  ? Surely  none  other  than  that 
which  these  senseless  creatures  will  receive — 
the  eternal  fire  of  hell. 

Here,  then,  is  the  first  motive  which  obliges 
us  to  love  and  serve  God.  This  is  an  obliga- 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


25 


tion  so  great  that  compared  to  it  all  obliga- 
tions to  creatures,  whatever  their  excellence 
or  perfections,  are  only  obligations  in  name. 
For  as  the  perfections  of  creatures  are  mere  im- 
perfections compared  with  the  perfections  of 
God,  so  the  obligations  resulting  therefrom  can- 
not with  justice  be  considered  obligations  when 
contrasted  with  those  which  we  owe  to  God. 
Nor  can  our  offences  against  the  creature  be  re- 
garded as  offences,  except  in  name,  when  we 
remember  the  guilt  we  have  incurred  by  our 
many  sins  against  God.  For  this  reason  David 
cried  out  : “ Against  Thee  only,  0 God  ! have 
I sinned/5*  though  he  had  sinned  against 
Urias,  whom  he  murdered  ; against  the  wife  of 
Urias,  whom  he  dishonored  ; and  against  his 
subjects,  whom  he  scandalized.  The  penitent 
king  knew  that  his  offences  against  creatures, 
notwithstanding  their  different  degrees  of  defor- 
mity, could  not  equal  the  enormity  of  his  re- 
volt against  God.  For  God  being  infinite,  our  ob- 
ligations towards  Him  and  our  offences  against 
Him  are  in  a measure  infinite. 


* Ps.  1.  So 


26 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


CHAPTER  II. 

THE  SECOND  MOTIVE  WHICH  OBLIGES  US  TO 
PRACTISE  VIRTUE  AND  TO  SERVE  GOD  : THE 
BENEFIT  OF  OUR  CREATION. 

WE  are  obliged  to  practise  virtue  and  keep 
God’s  commandments  not  only  because 
of  what  God  is  in  Himself,  but  because 
of  what  He  is  to  us,  because  of  His  in- 
numerable benefits  to  us. 

The  first  of  these  benefits  is  our  creation , 
which  obliges  man  to  give  himself  wholly  to  the 
service  of  his  Creator,  for  in  justice  he  stands 
indebted  to  Him  for  all  he  has  received  ; and 
since  he  has  received  his  body  with  all  its 
senses,  and  his  soul  with  all  its  faculties,  he  is 
obliged  to  employ  them  in  the  service  of  his 
Creator,  or  incur  the  guilt  of  theft  and  ingra- 
titude towards  his  gracious  Benefactor.  For  if 
a man  build  a house,  who  should  have  the  use 
and  profit  of  it,  if  not  he  who  built  it  ? To 
whom  does  the  fruit  of  a vine  belong,  if  not  to 
him  who  has  planted  it  ? Whom  should  chil- 
dren serve,  if  not  the  father  who  gave  them  be- 
ing ? Hence  the  law  gives  a father  almost  un- 
limited power  over  his  children,  so  natural  does 
it  seem  that  he  should  be  master  of  an  existence 
of  which  he  is  the  author.  What,  then,  should 
be  the  authority  of  God,  the  sovereign  Author 
of  all  being  in  heaven  and  on  earth  ? And  if, 
as  Seneca  remarks,  tho>e  who  receive  benefits 
are  obliged  to  imitate  good  soil  and  return  with 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


27 


interest  what  they  have  received,  what  return 
can  we  make  to  God,  when  we  have  nothing  to 
offer  Him  but  what  we  have  received  from  His 
infinite  goodness  ? What,  therefore,  must  we 
think  of  those  who  not  only  make  no  return  to 
their  Creator,  but  use  His  benefits  to  offend 
Him  ? Aristotle  tells  us  that  man  can  never 
make  adequate  return  to  his  parents  or  to  the 
gods  for  the  favors  received  from  them.  How, 
then,  can  we  make  a suitable  return  to  the 
great  God,  the  Father  of  us  all,  for  the  innu- 
merable blessings  bestowed  upon  us  ? If  dis- 
obedience to  parents  be  so  grievous  a crime, 
how  heinous  must  it  not  be  to  rebel  against  this 
gracious  God  ! He  Himself  complains  of  this 
ingratitude  by  the  mouth  of  His  prophet : “ The 
son  honoreth  the  father,  and  the  servant  his 
master:  if,  then,  I be  a father,  where  is  my 
honor  ? and  if  I be  a master,  where  is  my 
fear  ? ” * Another  servant  of  God,  filled  with 
indignation  at  like  ingratitude,  exclaims  : “Is 
this  the  return  thou  makest  to  the  Lord,  0 fool- 
ish and  senseless  people  ? Is  He  not  thy  father, 
that  hath  possessed  thee,  and  made  thee,  and 
created  thee  ? ” f This  reproach  is  addressed  to 
those  who  never  raise  their  eyes  to  heaven  to 
consider  what  God  is,  who  never  look  upon 
themselves  in  order  to  know  themselves.  Know- 
ing nothing,  therefore,  of  their  origin  or  the 
end  for  which  they  are  created,  they  live  as 
though  they  themselves  were  the  authors  of 
their  being.  This  was  the  crime  of  the  unfor- 
tunate king  of  Egypt  to  whom  God  said  : “Be- 

* Mai.  i.  6.  t Deut.  xxxii.  6. 


28 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


hold,  I come  against  thee,  Pharao,  king  of 
Egypt,  thou  great  dragon  that  liest  in  the  midst 
of  thy  rivers  and  sayest : The  river  is  mine,  and 
I made  myself.”  * This  is,  at  least  practically, 
the  language  of  those  who  act  as  though  they 
were  the  principle  of  their  own  being,  and  who 
refuse  to  recognize  any  obligation  to  serve  their 
Maker.  How  different  were  the  sentiments  of 
St.  Augustine,  who  by  studying  his  origin  was 
brought  to  the  knowledge  of  Him  from  whom 
he  had  received  his  being  ! “ I returned  to 

myself,”  he  says,  “ and  entered  into  myself, 
saying  : What  art  thou  ? And  I answered  : A 
rational  and  mortal  man.  And  I began  to  exa- 
mine what  this  was,  and  I said  : O my  Lord 
and  my.  God  ! who  has  created  so  noble  a crea- 
ture as  this — who,  0 Lord  ! but  Thou  ? Thou, 
0 my  God  ! hast  made  me  ; I have  not  made 
myself.  What  art  Thou,  Thou  by  whom  I 'live 
and  from  whom  all  things  receive  being  ? Can 
any  one  create  himself  or  receive  his  being  but 
from  Thee  ? Art  Thou  not  the  source  of  all 
being,  the  fountain  whence  all  life  flows  ? For 
whatsoever  has  life  lives  by  Thee,  because  no- 
thing can  live  without  Thee.  It  is  Thou,  0 
Lord  ! that  hast  made  me,  and  without  Thee 
nothing  is  made.  Thou  art  my  Creator,  and  I 
am  Thy  creature.  I thank  Thee,  0 my  Creator  ! 
because  Thy  hands  have  made  and  fashioned 
me.  I thank  Thee,  0 my  Light ! for  having 
enlightened  me  and  brought  me  to  the  knowl- 
edge of  what  Thou  art  and  what  I myself  am.” 

This,  then,  the  first  of  God’s  benefits,  is  the 

* Ezech.  xxix.  3. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


29 


foundation  of  all  the  others,  for  all  other  bene- 
fits presuppose  existence,  which  is  given  us  at 
our  creation.  Let  us  now  consider  the  ac- 
knowledgment God  demands  of  us,  for  He  is 
no  less  rigid  in  requiring  our  gratitude  than 
He  is  magnificent  in  bestowing  His  benefits  ; 
and  this  is  an  additional  proof  of  His  love,  for 
our  gratitude  results  in  no  advantage  to  Him, 
but  enables  us  to  profit  by  the  favors  we  have 
received,  and  thus  merit  other  graces  from  His 
infinite  goodness.  Thus  we  read  in  the  Old 
Testament  that  whenever  He  bestowed  a favor 
upon  His  people  He  immediately  commanded 
them  to  keep  it  in  remembrance.  When  He 
brought  the  Israelites  out  of  Egypt  He  com- 
manded them  to  commemorate  by  a solemn 
festival  every  year  their  happy  deliverance  from 
bondage.  When  He  slew  the  first-born  of  the 
Egyptians  and  spared  the  Israelites  He  com- 
manded that  the  latter,  in  return,  should  con- 
secrate their  first-born  to  Him.  When  He 
sent  them  manna  from  heaven  to  sustain  them 
in  the  wilderness,  He  ordered  that  a portion  of 
it  should  be  put  in  a vessel  and  kept  in  the 
tabernacle  as  a memorial  to  generations  of  this 
extraordinary  favor.  After  giving  them  vic- 
tory over  Amalec  He  told  Moses  to  write  it  for 
a memorial  in  a book,  and  deliver  it  to  Josue. 
Since,  therefore,  God  so  rigidly  requires  a con- 
tinual remembrance  of  the  temporal  favors  He 
grants  us,  what  return  of  gratitude  will  He  not 
demand  for  this  immortal  benefit  ? Such  we 
truly  call  the  benefit  of  creation,  because  with 
it  we  receive  from  God  the  gift  of  an  immortal 


30 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


soul.  The  patriarchs  of  old  were  deeply  sensi- 
ble of  this  obligation  of  gratitude,  and  there- 
fore we  read  that  whenever  God  bestowed  upon 
them  any  special  favor  or  blessing  they  evinced 
their  gratitude  by  erecting  altars  to  His  name 
and  by  rearing  other  monuments  to  commemo- 
rate His  mercies  to  them.  Even  the  names 
they  gave  their  children  expressed  the  favors 
they  had  received,  so  desirous  were  they  that 
their  debt  of  gratitude  to  God  should  never  be 
forgotten.  St.  Augustine,  speaking  on  this 
subject  in  one  of  his  soliloquies,  says:  “Man 
should  think  of  God  as  often  as  he  breathes  ; 
for  as  his  being  is  continuous  and  immortal,  he 
should  continually  return  thanks  to  the  Author 
of  his  being.” 

This  obligation  is  so  deeply  graven  in  nature 
that  even  the  philosophers  and  sages  of  this 
world  earnestly  inculcate  gratitude  to  God. 
Hear  the  counsel  of  Epictetus  : “ Be  not  un- 
grateful, 0 man!  to  this  sovereign  Power,  but 
return  thanks  for  the  faculties  with  which  He 
has  endowed  thee,  for  thy  life  itself  and  for  all 
the  things  which  sustain  it,  for  fruits,  wine, 
oil,  and  whatever  advantages  of  fortune  thou 
hast  received  from  Him  ; but  praise  Him  par- 
ticularly for  thy  reason,  which  teaches  thee  the 
proper  use  and  the  true  worth  of  all  these 
things.”  If  a pagan  philosopher  teach  such 
gratitude  for  benefits  common  to  all  men,  what 
should  be  the  gratitude  of  a Christian,  who  has 
received  the  light  of  faith  in  addition  to  that  of 
reason,  as  well  as  other  gifts  vastly  superior  to 
those  we  have  just  mentioned  ? 


. The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


31 


But  perhaps  you  will  urge  that  these  benefits 
common  to  all  seem  the  work  of  nature  rather 
than  graces  emanating  from  God;  and  why,  you 
ask,  should  I be  grateful  for  the  general  order 
which  reigns  in  the  world,  and  because  things 
follow  their  natural  course  ? This  objection  is 
unworthy  of  a Christian,  of  a pagan,  of  any  but 
an  unreasonable  animal.  Hear  how  the  same 
philosopher  answers  it : “ You  will  say,  perhaps, 
that  you  receive  all  these  benefits  from  nature. 
Senseless  man  ! in  saying  this  you  but  change 
the  name  of  God,  your  Benefactor.  For  what  is 
nature  but  God  Himself,  the  first  and  original 
nature  ? Therefore,  it  is  no  excuse,  ungrateful 
man,  to  urge  that  you  are  indebted,  not  to  God, 
but  to  nature  ; for  without  God  there  is  no  na- 
ture. Were  you  to  receive  a benefit  from  Lucius 
Seneca  you  would  not  dare  to  say  that  you  were 
indebted  to  Lucius  and  not  to  Seneca.  Such 
a subterfuge  'would  change  your  benefactor’s 
name,  but  would  by  no  means  cancel  your  ob- 
ligation to  him.” 

It  is  not  only  a motive  of  justice  which  obliges 
us  to  serve  God,  but  our  necessities  force  us 
to  have  recourse  to  Him  if  we  would  attain  the 
perfection  and  happiness  for  which  we  were 
created. 

In  order  to  understand  this  more  clearly  let 
us  call  to  mind  the  general  principle  that  crea- 
tures are  not  born  with  all  their  perfections. 
There  remain  many  to  be  cultivated  and  de- 
veloped, and  only  He  who  has  begun  the  work 
can  perfect  it.  Things  instinctively  go  back  to 
their  first  cause  for  their  development  and  per- 


32 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


fection.  Plants  unceasingly  seek  the  sun,  and 
sink  their  roots  deep  into  the  earth  where  they 
were  formed.  Fishes  will  not  leave  the  element 
where  they  were  engendered.  Chickens  seek 
vivifying  warmth  and  shelter  beneath  their 
mother’s  wings.  In  like  manner  a lamb,  until 
it  has  attained  its  strength,  clings  to  the  side  of 
its  ewe,  distinguishing  her  among  a thousand 
of  the  same  color,  arguing,  doubtless,  with  blind 
instinct,  that  it  must  seek  what  it  lacks  at  the 
source  whence  it  has  received  all  that  it  is. 
This  is  apparent  in  all  the  works  of  nature,  and 
if  those  of  art  could  reason  they  would  doubtless 
proceed  in  like  manner.  Were  a painter  to 
make  a beautiful  picture  and  omit  the  eyes, 
whither  would  the  picture,  were  it  sensible  of  its 
want,  go  to  seek  its  completion  ? Not  to  the 
palaces  of  kings  or  princes,  for  all  their  power 
could  not  give  it  what  it  sought ; no,  it  would 
seek  its  first  cause,  the  master  who  designed  it. 
And  is  not  this  thy  position  also,  0 rational 
creature  ? Thou  art  an  unfinished  work.  Many 
things  are  lacking  to  the  perfection  of  thy  be- 
ing. Thou  hast  naught  of  the  beauty  and 
lustre  which  are  yet  to  be  thine.  Hence  thy 
restless,  unsatisfied  yearning  : hence  those  un- 
ceasing aspirations  for  a higher,  a better  state 
which  arise  from  thy  very  necessities.  Yes, 
God  let  thee  hunger,  in  order  that,  driven  by 
necessity,  thou  mightst  have  recourse  to  Him. 
For  this  reason  He  did  not  give  thee  perfection 
at  thy  creation,  but  He  withheld  it  only  through 
love  for  thee.  It  was  not  to  make  thee  poor,  but 
to  make  thee  humble  ; it  was  not  to  leave  thee 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


33 


needy,  but  to  compel  thee  to  have  recourse  to 
Him. 

If,  then,  thou  art  blind,  poor,  and  in  need, 
why  dost  thou  not  seek  the  Father  who  created 
thee,  the  Artist  who  designed  thee,  that  He  may 
satisfy  thy  wants  and  supply  all  that  is  lacking 
to  thy  perfection  ? Penetrated  with  this  truth, 
David  cried  out  : “ Thy  hands  have  made  me 
and  formed  me  : give  me  understanding,  and  I 
will  learn  Thy  commandments.”  * 

Thy  hands  have  made  me,  the  prophet  would 
say,  but  the  work  is  incomplete.  The  eyes  of 
my  soul  are  still  imperfect ; they  see  not  what 
they  ought  to  know.  To  whom  shall  I go  in 
my  necessities,  if  not  to  Him  from  whom  I 
have  received  all  that  I possess  ? Enlighten, 
then,  my  eyes,  that  they  may  know  Thee,  0 
Lord  ! and  that  the  work  Thou  hast  begun  in 
me  may  be  perfected.  Therefore,  God  only  can 
perfect  the  understanding,  the  will,  and  all  the 
faculties  of  the  soul.  It  is  He  alone  who  satis- 
fies His  creature  and  never  fails  him.  With 
Him  the  creature  is  content  in  poverty,  rich  in 
destitution,  happy  in  solitude,  and  though  de- 
spoiled of  all  possessions,  yet  master  of  all 
things.  Hence  the  wise  man  so  justly  says: 
“ One  is  as  it  were  rich  when  he  hath  nothing, 
and  another  is  as  it  were  poor  when  he  hath 
great  riches.”  f Eich  indeed  is  the  poor  man 
who,  like  St.  Francis  of  Assisi,  has  God  for  his 
inheritance,  though  owning  naught  else ; but 
poor  would  he  be  who  knew  not  God,  though 
he  possessed  the  entire  universe.  What  do  their 

*Ps.  cxviii.  73.  tProv.  xiii.  7. 


34 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


wealth  and  power  avail  the  rich  and  great  of 
this  world  when  they  are  a prey  to  anxieties 
which  they  cannot  calm,  a victim  to  appetites 
which  they  cannot  satisfy  ? For  what  comfort 
can  costly  raiment,  luxurious  viands,  and  over- 
flowing coffers  bring  to  a troubled  mind  ? The 
rich  man  tosses  restlessly  on  his  soft  couch,  and 
his  treasure  is  powerless  to  stifle  the  remorse 
which  banishes  sleep.  Independently,  there- 
fore, of  God’s  benefits  to  us,  we  are,  from  the 
necessities  of  our  nature,  obliged  to  serve  Him, 
if  we  would  attain  our  happiness  and  perfec- 
tion. 


CHAPTER  III. 

THE  THIRD  MOTIVE  WHICH  OBLIGES  US  TO 
SERVE  god:  THE  BENEFIT  OF  OUR  PRESERVA- 
TION, AND  THE  GOVERNMENT  OF  HIS  PROVI- 
DENCE. 

ANOTHER  motive  which  obliges  man  to 
serve  God  is  the  benefit  of  preservation . 
God  gave  you  being,  and  still  preserves 
it  to  you,  for  you  are  as  powerless  to  sub- 
sist without  Him  as  you  were  incapable  of  com- 
ing into  existence  without  Him.  The  benefit 
of  preservation  is  not  less  than  that  of  crea- 
tion. It  is  even  greater,  for  your  creation  was 
but  a single  act,  while  your  preservation  is  a 
continuous  manifestation  of  God’s  abiding 
love.  If,  then,  your  creation  demand  from  you 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


35 


so  great  a return  of  gratitude,  who  can  reckon 
the  debt  you  owe  for  the  gift  of  preservation  ? 
There  is  not  a movement  of  your  eye,  there  is 
not  a step  you  take,  which  is  not  by  His  power. 
For  if  you  do  not  believe  that  it  is  through 
Him  you  live  and  act,  you  are  no  longer  a 
Christian;  and  if,  believing  it,  you  continue 
deliberately  to  offend  your  Benefactor,  how  can 
I say  what  you  are?  If  a man  on  the  top  of  a 
high  tower  held  another  suspended  by  a small 
cord  over  an  abyss,  do  you  think  the  latter 
would  dare  to  address  injurious  words  to  him 
wTho  held  him  thus  suspended?  How  is  it, 
then,  that  you,  whose  existence  hangs  by  a 
thread  which  God  can  sever  at  any  moment, 
dare  excite  the  anger  of  this  infinite  Majesty 
by  outraging  Him  with  the  very  benefits  He 
mercifully  preserves  to  you? 

The  goodness  of  this  sovereign  Being  is  so 
great,  says  St.  Denis,  that  while  creatures  are 
offending  Him  and  madly  rebelling  against  His 
will  He  continues  to  give  them  the  power  and 
strength  which  they  use  to  resist  Him.  How, 
then,  can  you  be  so  rash,  so  ungrateful  as  to 
turn  against  God  the  blessings  with  which  He 
has  loaded  you  ? Oh  ! incredible  blindness  ! 
Oh  ! senseless  rebellion  ! — that  the  members 
would  conspire  against  their  Head,  for  which 
they  ought  to  be  ready  to  make  any  sacrifice. 
But  a time  will  come  when  God’s  outraged 
patience  shall  be  avenged.  You  have  con- 
spired against  God.  It  is  just  that  He  should 
arm  the  universe  against  you,  that  all  creatures 
should  rise  up  against  you  to  avenge  their 


36 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Creator.  They  who  closed  their  eyes  to  the 
sweet  light  of  His  mercy  while  it  still  shone 
upon  them  and  allured  them  by  so  many  bene- 
fits will  justly  behold  it  when,  too  late  for 
amendment,  they  shall  be  groaning  under  the 
severity  of  His  justice. 

Consider  in  addition  to  this  benefit  the  rich  and 
delightful  banquet  of  nature  prepared  for  you  by 
your  Creator.  Everything  in  this  world  is  for 
man’s  use,  directly  or  indirectly.  Insects  serve 
as  food  for  birds,  which  in  their  turn  serve  as 
food  for  man.  In  like  manner  the  grass  of  the 
fields  supports  the  animals  destined  also  for 
man’s  service.  Cast  your  eye  upon  this  vast 
world,  and  behold  the  abundance  of  your  pos- 
sessions, the  magnificence  of  your  inheritance. 
All  that  move  upon  the  earth,  or  swim  in  the 
water,  or  fly  in  the  air,  or  live  under  the  sun  are 
made  for  you.  Every  creature  is  a benefit  of 
God,  the  work  of  His  Providence,  a ray  of  His 
beauty,  a token  of  His  mercy,  a spark  of  His 
love,  a voice  which  proclaims  His  magnificence. 
These  are  the  eloquent  messengers  of  God  con- 
tinually reminding  you  of  your  obligations  to 
Him.  “Everything,”  says  St.  Augustine,  “in 
heaven  and  on  earth  calls  upon  me  to  love  Thee, 
0 Lord  ! and  the  universe  unceasingly  exhorts 
all  men  to  love  Thee,  that  none  may  exempt 
themselves  from  this  sweet  law.” 

Oh  ! that  you  had  ears  to  hear  the  voice  of 
creatures  appealing  to  you  to  love  God.  Their 
expressive  silence  tells  you  that  they  were  created 
to  serve  you,  while  yours  is  the  sweet  duty  of 
praising  your  common  Lord  not  only  in  your 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


37 


own  name  but  in  theirs  also.  I flood  your  days 
with  light,  the  heavens  declare,  and  your  nights 
I illumine  with  the  soft  radiance  of  my  stars. 
By  my  different  influences  all  nature  bears  fruit 
in  season  for  your  necessities.  I sustain  your 
breath,  the  air  tells  you  ; with  gentle  breezes  I 
refresh  you  and  temper  your  bodily  heat.  I 
maintain  an  almost  infinite  variety  of  birds  to 
delight  you  with  their  beauty,  to  ravish  you  with 
their  songs,  and  to  feed  you  with  their  flesh.  I 
maintain  for  your  nourishment  innumerable 
fishes,  the  water  exclaims.  I water  your  lands, 
that  they  may  give  you  their  fruit  in  due  season. 
I afford  you  an  easy  passage  to  distant  countries, 
that  you  may  add  their  riches  to  those  of  your 
own. 

But  what  says  the  earth,  this  common  mother 
of  all  things,  this  vast  storehouse  of  the  treasures 
of  nature  ? Surely  she  may  tell  you  : Like  a 
good  mother  I bear  you  in  my  arms  ; I prepare 
food  for  all  your  necessities  ; I procure  the  con- 
currence of  the  heavens  and  all  the  elements  for 
your  welfare.  Never  do  I abandon  you,  for 
after  supporting  you  during  life,  I receive  you 
in  death,  and  in  my  own  bosom  give  you  a final 
resting-place.  Thus  can  the  whole  universe  with 
one  voice  cry  out : Behold  how  my  Master  and 
Creator  has  loved  you.  He  has  created  me  for 
your  happiness,  that  I might  serve  you,  and  that 
you  in  your  turn  might  love  and  serve  Him  ; 
for  I have  been  made  for  you,  and  you  have  been 
made  for  God.  This  is  the  voice  of  all  creatures. 
Will  you  be  deaf  to  it  ? Will  you  be  insensible 
tQ  so  many  benefits  ? You  have  been  loaded 


38 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


with  favors.  Do  not  forget  the  debt  yon  thence 
contract.  Beware  of  the  crime  of  ingratitude. 
Every  creature,  says  Richard  of  St.  Victor,  ad- 
dresses these  three  words  to  man  : Receive , give , 
beware . Receive  the  benefit ; give  thanks  for 
it ; and  beware  of  the  punishment  of  ingratitude. 

Epictetus,  a pagan  philosopher,  fully  appreci- 
ated this  truth.  He  teaches  us  to  behold  the 
Creator  in  all  His  creatures,  and  to  refer  to  Him 
all  the  blessings  we  receive  from  them.  “ When 
you  are  warned,”  he  says,  “of  a change  in  the 
atmosphere  by  the  redoubled  cries  of  the  crow, 
it  is  not  the  crow,  but  God  Who  warns  you. 
And  if  the  voice  of  men  gives  you  wise  counsel 
and  useful  knowledge,  it  is  also  God  Who  speaks. 
For  He  has  given  them  this  wisdom  and  know- 
ledge, and,  therefore,  you  must  recognize  Hjs 
power  in  the  instruments  He  wills  to  employ. 
But  when  be  wishes  to  acquaint  you  with  mat- 
ters of  greater  moment  He  chooses  more  noble 
and  worthy  messengers.”  The  same  philosopher 
adds  : 4 4 When  you  will  have  finished  reading 
my  counsels,  say  to  yourself  : It  is  not  Epictetus 
the  philosopher  who  tells  me  all  these  things  ; 
it  is  God.  For  whence  in  fact  has  he  received 
the  power  to  give  these  counsels  but  from  God  ? 
Is  it  not  God  Himself,  therefore,  Who  speaks  to 
me  through  him?”  Such  are  the  sentiments 
of  Epictetus.  Should  not  a Christian  blush  to 
be  less  enlightened  than  a pagan  philosopher  ? 
Surely  it  is  shameful  that  they  who  are  illumined 
by  faith  should  not  see  what  was  so  clear  to  them 
who  had  no  other  guide  than  the  light  of  simple 
reason. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


39 


Since,  then,  every  creature  is  a benefit  from 
God,  how  can  we  live  surrounded  by  these  proofs 
of  His  love,  and  yet  never  think  of  Him  ? If 
wearied  and  hungry  you  seated  yourself  at  the 
foot  of  a tower,  and  a beneficent  creature  from 
above  sent  you  food  and  refreshment,  could  you 
forbear  raising  your  eyes  to  your  kind  benefac- 
tor ? Yet  God  continually  sends  down  upon 
you  blessings  of  every  kind.  Find  me,  I pray 
you,  but  one  thing  which  does  not  come  from 
God,  which  does  not  happen  by  His  special 
Providence.  Why  is  it,  then,  that  you  never 
raise  your  eyes  to  this  indefatigable  and  generous 
Benefactor  ? Ah  ! we  have  divested  ourselves 
of  our  own  nature,  so  to  speak,  and  have  fallen 
into  worse  than  brute  insensibility.  I blush,  in 
truth,  to  say  what  we  resemble  in  this  particular, 
but  it  is  good  for  man  to  hear  it.  We  are  like 
a herd  of  swine  feeding  under  an  oak.  While 
their  keeper  is  showering  down  acorns,  they 
greedily  devour  them,  grunting  and  quarrelling 
with  one  another,  yet  never  raising  their  eyes 
to  the  master  who  is  feeding  them.  Oh  ! brute- 
like ingratitude  of  the  children  of  Adam  ! We 
have  received  the  light  of  reason,  and  an  upright 
form.  Our  head  is  directed  to  heaven,  not  to 
earth,  which  ought  to  teach  us  to  raise  the  eyes 
of  our  soul  to  the  abode  of  our  Benefactor. 

Would  that  irrational  creatures  did  not  excel 
us  in  this  duty  ! But  the  law  of  gratitude,  so 
dear  to  God,  is  so  deeply  impressed  on  all  crea- 
tures that  we  find  this  noble  sentiment  even  in 
the  most  savage  beasts.  What  nature  is  more 
savage  than  that  of  a lion  ? Yet  Appian,  a 


40 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Greek  author,  tells  us  that  a certain  man  took 
refuge  in  a cave,  where  he  extracted  a thorn 
from  the  foot  of  a lion.  Grateful  for  the  kind- 
ness, the  noble  animal  ever  after  shared  bis 
prey  with  his  benefactor  while  he  remained  in 
the  cave.  Some  years  later  this  man,  having 
been  charged  with  a crime,  was  condemned  to 
be  exposed  to  wild  beasts  in  the  amphitheatre. 
When  the  time  of  execution  arrived,  a lion 
which  had  been  lately  captured  was  let  loose  on 
the  prisoner.  Instead  of  tearing  his  victim  to 
pieces  he  gazed  at  him  intently,  and,  recogniz- 
ing his  former  benefactor,  he  gave  evident 
signs  of  joy,  leaping  and  fawning  upon  him  as 
a dog  would  upon  his  master.  Moved  by  this 
spectacle,  the  judges,  on  hearing  his  story,  re- 
leased both  man  and  lion.  Forgetful  of  his 
former  wildness,  the  lion,  until  his  death,  con- 
tinued to  follow  his  master  through  the  streets 
of  Rome  without  offering  the  slightest  injury  to 
any  one. 

— A like  instance  of  gratitude  is  related  of  an- 
other lion  that  was  strangling  in  the  coils  of 
a serpent  when  a gentleman  riding  by  came  to 
his  rescue  and  killed  the  serpent.  The  grateful 
animal,  to  show  his  devotion,  took  up  his  abode 
with  his  deliverer  and  followed  him  wherever 
he  went,  like  a faithful  clog.  One  day  the  gen- 
tleman set  sail,  leaving  the  lion  behind  him  on 
the  shore.  Impatient  to  be  with  his  master, 
the  faithful  animal  plunged  into  the  sea,  and, 
being  unable  to  reach  the  vessel,  was  drowned. 

What  instances  could  we  not  relate  of  the 
fidelity  and  gratitude  of  the  horse  ? Pliny,  in 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


41 


bis  “ Natural  History,”*  tells  us  that  horses 
have  been  seen  to  shed  tears  at  the  death  of 
their  masters,  and  even  to  starve  themselves  to 
death  for  the  same  reason.  Nor  are  the  grati- 
tude and  fidelity  of  dogs  less  surprising.  Of 
these  the  same  author  relates  most  marvellous 
things.  He  gives,  among  other  examples,  an 
instance  which  occurred  in  his  own  time  at 
Rome.  A man  condemned  to  death  w7as  allowed 
in  prison  the  companionship  of  his  dog.  The 
faithful  animal  never  left  him,  and  even  after 
death  remained  by  the  lifeless  body  to  testify 
his  grief.  If  food  were  given  to  him  he  imme- 
diately brought  it  to  his  master  and  laid  it  on 
his  lifeless  lips.  Finally,  when  the  remains 
were  thrown  into  the  Tiber,  he  plunged  into  the 
river,  and,  having  placed  himself  beneath  the 
body,  struggled  till  the  last  to  keep  it  from 
sinking.  Could  there  be  gratitude  greater  than 
this  ? Now,  if  beasts,  with  no  other  guide 
than  natural  instinct,  thus  show  their  love  and 
gratitude  for  their  masters,  how  can  man,  pos- 
sessing the  superior  guidance  of  reason,  live  in 
such  forgetfulness  of  his  Benefactor  ? Will  he 
suffer  the  brute  creation  to  give  him  lessons  in 
fidelity,  gratitude,  and  kindness  ? Moreover, 
will  he  forget  that  the  benefits  he  receives  from 
God  are  incomparably  superior  to  those  which 
animals  receive  from  men  ; that  his  Benefactor 
is  so  infinite  in  His  excellence,  so  disinterested 
in  His  love,  overwhelming  His  creatures  with 
blessings  which  can  in  no  way  benefit  Himself  ? 
This  must  ever  be  a subject  of  wonder  and  as- 

* viii.  40. 


42 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


tonishment,  and  evidently  proves  that  there  are 
evil  spirits  who  darken  our  understanding,  weak- 
en our  memory,  and  harden  our  heart,  in  or- 
der to  make  us  forget  so  bountiful  a Benefactor. 

If  it  be  so  great  a crime  to  forget  this  Lord, 
what  must  it  be  to  insult  Him,  and  to  convert 
His  benefits  into  the  instruments  of  our  offen- 
ces against  Him  ? “The  first  degree  of  ingra- 
titude,'5 says  Seneca,  “ is  to  neglect  to  repay  the 
benefits  we  have  received  ; the  second  is  to  for- 
get them  ; the  third  is  to  requite  the  benefac- 
tor with  evil.55  But  what  shall  we  say  of  that 
excess  of  ingratitude  which  goes  so  far  as  to 
outrage  the  benefactor  with  his  own  benefits  ? 
I doubt  whether  one  man  ever  treated  another 
as  we  dare  to  treat  God.  What  man,  having 
received  a large  sum  of  money  from  his  sove- 
reign, would  be  so  ungrateful  as  immediately  to 
employ  it  in  raising  an  army  against  him  ? Yet 
you,  unhappy  creature,  never  cease  to  make  war 
upon  God  with  the  very  benefits  you  have  re- 
— ceived  from  Him.  How  infamous  would  be  the 
conduct  of  a married  woman  who,  having  re- 
ceived a rich  present  from  her  husband,  would 
bestow  it  upon  the  object  of  her  unlawful  love 
in  order  to  secure  his  affections  ! The  world 
would  regard  it  as  base,  unparalleled  treason  ; 
yet  the  offence  is  only  between  equals.  But 
what  proportions  the  crime  assumes  when  the 
affront  is  from  a creature  to  God  ! Yet  is  not 
this  the  crime  of  men  who  consume  their  health, 
and  waste,  in  the  pursuit  of  vice,  the  means 
that  God  has  given  them  ? They  pervert  their 
strength  to  the  gratification  of  their  pride ; 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


43 


their  beauty  but  feeds  their  vanity ; tluir 
wealth  enables  them  to  conceal  their  vices,  to 
vie  with  the  great,  to  pamper  their  flesh,  to 
traffic  in  innocence,  bargaining,  even  as  the 
Jews  did  with  Judas,  for  the  blood  of  Christ  ! 
What  shall  I say  of  their  abuse  of  other  bene- 
fits ? The  sea  serves  but  to  satisfy  their  glut- 
tony and  their  ambition  ; the  beauty  of  crea- 
tures excites  their  gross  sensuality  ; earthly  pos- 
sessions but  feed  their  avarice ; and  talents, 
whether  natural  or  acquired,  only  tend  to  in- 
crease their  vanity  and  pride.  Prosperity  inflates 
them  with  folly,  and  adversity  reduces  them  to 
despair.  They  choose  the  darkness  of  the  night 
to  hide  their  thefts,  and  the  light  of  day  to  lay 
their  snares,  as  we  read  in  Job.  In  a word, 
they  pervert  all  that  God  lias  created  for  His 
glory  to  the  gratification  of  their  inordinate 
passions. 

What  shall  I say  of  their  effeminate  adorn- 
ments, their  costly  stuffs,  their  extravagant 
perfumes,  their  sumptuous  tables  groaning  un- 
der the  weight  of  rare  and  luxurious  viands  ? 
Nay,  sensuality  and  luxury  are  so  general  that, 
to  our  shame,  books  are  published  to  teach  us 
how  to  sin  in  these  respects.  Men  have  per- 
verted creatures  from  their  lawful  use,  and  in- 
stead of  making  God’s  benefits  a help  to  virtue, 
they  have  turned  them  into  instruments  of  vice. 
So  great  is  the  selfishness  of  the  world  that 
there  is  nothing  which  men  do  not  sacrifice  to 
the  gratification  of  the  flesh,  wholly  forgetful 
of  the  poor,  whom  God  has  so  specially  recom- 
mended to  their  care.  Such  persons  never  find 


44 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


that  they  are  poor  until  they  are  asked  for 
alms  ; at  any  other  time  there  is  no  extravagant 
luxury  their  income  cannot  afford. 

Beware  lest  this  terrible  accusation  be  made 
against  you  at  the  hour  of  death  ! The  greater 
the  benefits  you  have  perverted  the  more  severe 
the  account  you  will  have  to  render.  It  is 
a great  sign  of  reprobation  for  a man  to  con- 
tinue to  abuse  the  favors  God  has  bestowed  up- 
on him.  To  have  received  much,  and  to  have 
made  but  small  return,  is,  in  a manner,  already 
to  have  judged  himself.  If  the  Ninivites  shall 
rise  in  judgment  against  the  Jews  for  not  hav- 
ing done  penance  at  our  Saviour’s  teaching,  let 
us  see  that  the  same  Lord  shall  have  no  reason 
to  condemn  us  upon  the  example  of  beasts  that 
love  their  benefactors,  while  we  manifest  such 
gross  ingratitude  to  the  Supreme  Benefactor  of 
all. 


CHAPTER  IY. 

THE  FOURTH  MOTIVE  WHICH  OBLIGES  US  TO 
PRACTISE  VIRTUE  : THE  INESTIMABLE  BENE- 
FIT OF  OUR  REDEMPTION. 

LET  us  now  consider  the  supreme  benefit  of 
divine  love,  the  redemption  of  man.  But 
I feel  myself  so  unworthy,  so  unfitted  to 
speak  of  such  a mj^stery  that  I know  not 
where  to  begin  or  where  to  leave  off,  or  whether 
it  were  not  better  for  me  to  be  silent  altogether. 
Hid  not  man,  in  his  lethargy,  need  an  incentive 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


45 


to  virtue,  better  would  it  be  to  prostrate  our- 
selves in  mute  adoration  before  the  incompre- 
hensible grandeur  of  this  mystery  than  vainly 
essay  to  explain  it  in  imperfect  human  language. 
It  is  said  that  a famous  painter  of  antiquity, 
wishing  to  represent  the  death  of  a king’s 
daughter,  painted  her  friends  and  relatives 
about  her  with  mournful  countenances.  In 
her  mother’s  face  grief  was  still  more  strongly 
depicted.  But  before  the  face  of  the  king  he 
painted  a dark  veil  to  signify  that  his  grief  was 
beyond  the  power  of  art  to  express.  Now,  if 
all  that  we  have  said  so  inadequately  expresses 
the  single  benefit  of  creation,  how  can  we  with 
any  justice  represent  the  supreme  benefit  of 
Bedemption  ? By  a single  act  of  Ilis  will  God 
created  the  whole  universe,  diminishing  there- 
by neither  the  treasures  of  His  riches  nor  the 
power  of  His  almighty  arm.  But  to  redeem 
the  world  He  labored  for  thirty-three  years  by 
the  sweat  of  His  brow,  He  shed  the  last  drop 
of  His  blood,  and  suffered  pain  and  anguish  in 
all  His  senses  and  all  His  members.  What 
mortal  tongue  can  explain  this  ineffable  mys- 
tery ? Yet  it  is  equally  impossible  for  me  to 
speak  or  to  be  silent.  Silence  seems  ingrati- 
tude, and  to  speak  seems  rashness.  Wherefore, 
I prostrate  myself  at  Thy  feet,  0 my  God  ! be- 
seeching Thee  to  supply  for  my  insufficiency, 
and  if  my  feeble  tongue  detract  from  Thy  glory, 
while'  wishing  to  praise  and  magnify  it,  grant 
that  Thy  elect  in  heaven  may  render  to  Thy 
mercy  the  worship  which  Thy  creatures  here 
below  are  incapable  of  offering  Thee. 


46 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


After  God  had  created  man  and  placed  him 
in  the  delights  of  the  terrestrial  paradise,  by  the 
very  favors  which  should  have  bound  him  to  the 
service  of  his  Creator  he  was  emboldened  to 
rebel  against  Him.  For  this  he  was  driven  into 
exile  and  condemned  to  the  eternal  pains  of 
hell.  He  had  imitated  the  rebellion  of  Satan  ; 
therefore,  it  was  just  that  he  should  share  his 
punishment.  When  Giezi,  the  servant  of  Eli- 
seus,  received  presents  from  Naaman  the  leper, 
the  prophet  said  to  him  : “ Since  thou  hast  re- 
ceived Naaman’s  money,  the  leprosy  of  Naaman 
shall  also  cleave  to  thee  and  to  thy  seed  for 
ever.  And  he  went  out  from  him  a leper  as 
white  as  snow.”  * God  pronounced  a like  sen- 
tence against  man  ; Adam  wished  to  share  the 
riches  of  Lucifer,  that  is,  his  pride  and  his  re- 
volt, and,  in  consequence,  the  leprosy  of  Lucifer, 
that  is,  the  punishment  of  his  revolt,  became 
his  portion  also.  By  sin,  therefore,  man  be- 
comes like  Satan,  he  imitates  him  in  his  guilt, 
and  shares  in  his  punishment. 

Having  brought  such  misery  upon  himself, 
man  became  the  object  of  the  Divine  compas- 
sion, for  God  was  more  moved  by  the  condition 
of  His  fallen  creature  than  He  was  indignant 
at  the  outrage  offered  to  His  goodness.  He  re- 
solved to  restore  man  and  reconcile  him  with 
Himself  through  the  mediation  of  His  only 
Son.  But  how  was  reconciliation  effected  ? 
Again,  what  human  tongue  can  express  this 
mercy  ? Through  our  Mediator  Christ  such  a 
friendship  was  established  between  God  and 

* 4 Kings  y.  26,  27 . 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


47 


man  that  the  Creator  not  only  pardoned  His 
creature  and  restored  him  to  His  grace  and  love, 
but  even  became  one  with  him.  Man  has  be- 
come so  one  with  God  that  in  all  creation  there 
is  no  union  that  can  be  compared  to  this.  It  is 
not  only  a union  of  grace  and  love,  but  it  is  a 
union  of  person  also.  Who  could  haye  thought 
that  such  a breach  would  be  so  perfectly  re- 
paired ? Who  could  have  imagined  that  two 
beings  so  widely  separated  by  nature  and  sin 
should  one  day  be  united,  not  only  in  the  same 
house,  at  the  same  table,  and  in  a union  of 
grace,  but  in  one  and  the  same  person  ? 
Can  we  think  of  two  beings  more  widely  sepa- 
rated than  God  and  the  sinner  ? Yet  where 
will  we  find  two  beings  more  closely  united  ? 
“ There  is  nothing,”  says  St.  Bernard,  “more 
elevated  than  God,  and  nothing  more  base  than 
the  clay  of  which  man  is  formed.  Yet  God  has 
with  such  great  humility  clothed  Himself  in 
this  clay,  and  the  clay  has  been  so  honorably 
raised  to  God,  that  we  may  ascribe  to  the  clay 
all  the  actions  of  God,  and  to  God  all  the  suffer- 
ings of  the  clay.”  * 

When  man  stood  naked  and  trembling  before 
his  Creator,  who  could  have  made  him  believe 
that  one  day  his  unhappy  nature  would  be  unit- 
ed to  God  in  one  and  the  same  person  ? This 
union  was  so  close  that  even  the  supreme  mo- 
ment of  the  Cross  could  not  sever  it.  Death 
dissolved  the  union  between  soul  and  body, 
but  could  not  separate  the  divinity  from  the 
humanity,  for  what  Christ  had  once  taken 

* Super  Cant.  Horn.  lix.  et  Ixiv. 


48 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


upon  Himself  for  love  of  us  He  never  aban- 
doned. 

Thus  was  our  peace  established.  Thus  did 
God  apply  to  us  the  remedy  for  our  sovereign 
miseries.  And  we  owe  Him  more  gratitude, 
perhaps,  for  the  manner  of  applying  this  reme- 
dy than  for  the  remedy  itself.  Yes,  Lord,  I 
am  infinitely  indebted  to  Thee  for  redeeming 
me  from  hell,  for  re-establishing  me  in  Thy 
grace,  and  for  restoring  my  liberty ; but  I 
should  be  still  more  grateful,  were  it  possible, 
for  the  manner  in  which  Thou  hast  wrought 
these  •wonders.  All  Thy  works  are  admirable, 
0 Lord  ! and  when  lost  in  wonder  at  a power 
that  seems  to  have  reached  its  limit,  we  have 
only  to  raise  our  eyes  to  behold  still  another 
marvel  which  eclipses  all  the  rest.  Nor  is 
this  any  disparagement  of  Thy  power,  0 Lord! 
but  rather  a manifestation  of  Thy  glory. 

But  what,  0 Lord  ! is  the  remedy  Thou  didst 
choose  for  my  deep  misery  ? Innumerable 
were  the  ways  in  which  Thou  couldst  have 
redeemed  me  without  toil  or  suffering;  but 
in  Thy  magnificence,  and  to  testify  Thy  great 
love  for  me,  Thou  didst  will  to  endure  such 
pain  and  sufferings  that  the  very  thought  of 
them  bathed  Thee  in  a sweat  of  blood,  and 
at  the  sight  of  them  the  rocks  were  rent  asun- 
der. May  the  heavens  praise  Thee,  0 Lord  ! 
and  may  the  angels  proclaim  Thy  mercies  ! 
What  did  our  virtues  avail  Thee,  or  how  wast 
Thou  harmed  by  our  sins?  “If  thou  sin,5’ 
says  Eliu  to  Job,  “what  shalt  thou  hurt  Him  ? 
And  if  thy  iniquities  be  multiplied,  what  shalt 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


49 


thou  do  against  Him  ? And  if  thou  do  justly, 
what  shalt  thou  give  Him,  or  what  shall  He 
receive  from  thy  hand  ? ” * 

This  great  God,  so  rich  and  powerful,  so  free 
from  all  evils,  Whose  wisdom  and  possessions 
can  neither  be  increased  nor  lessened,  Who 
would  be  equally  glorious  in  Himself  whether 
men  and  angels  praised  Him  for  ever  in 
heaven,  or  blasphemed  Him  for  ever  in  hell  ; 
this  great  God,  impelled  by  no  necessity,  but 
yielding  to  His  love,  came  down  from  heaven  to 
this  place  of  exile,  clothed  Himself  with  our 
nature  when  we  were  His  enemies,  took  upon 
Himself  our  infirmities,  and  even  death,  and 
to  heal  our  wounds  endured  torments  more  ter- 
rible than  any  that  had  ever  before  been  borne, 
or  that  ever  again  will  be  undergone. 

It  was  for  me,  0 Lord  ! that  Thou  wast 
born  in  a stable,  laid  in  a manger,  and  circum- 
cised on  the  eighth  day  after  Thy  birth.  For 
me  wast  Thou  driven  from  Thy  country  and 
exiled  to  Egypt.  For  my  sake  Thou  didst  fast 
and  watch,  shedding  bitter  tears,  and  sweating 
blood  from  every  pore.  For  me  Thou  wast 
seized  as  a malefactor,  forsaken,  sold,  denied, 
betrayed,  dragged  from  tribunal  to  tribunal, 
buffeted,  spat  upon,  bruised  with  blows,  and 
delivered  to  the  gibes  of  an  infamous  rabble. 
For  me  Thou  didst  die  upon  a Cross,  in  the 
sight  of  Thy  most  holy  Mother,  enduring  pov- 
erty so  great  that  even  the  consolation  of  a 
drop  of  water  was  denied  to  Thy  burning  lips. 
Thou  wert  abandoned  by  the  world,  and  so 

* Job  xxxv.  6,  7. 


50 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


great  was  Thy  desolation  that  even  Thy  Father 
seemed  to  have  forsaken  Thee.  At  such  a cost, 
0 God  ! didst  Thou  restore  to  me  my  life. 

Can  we,  without  the  deepest  grief,  behold 
this  spectacle — God  hanging  as  a malefactor 
upon  an  infamous  gibbet  ? We  could  not 
withhold  our  compassion  from  a criminal  who 
had  brought  such  misfortune  upon  himself ; 
and  if  our  compassion  be  greater  when  the  vic- 
tim is  innocent,  and  his  excellence  known  to 
us,  what  must  have  been  the  astonishment  and 
grief  of  the  Angels,  with  their  knowledge  of 
His  perfection,  when  they  saw  Him  over- 
whelmed wiili  ignominy  and  condemned  to  die 
upon  the  cross  ? The  two  cherubim  placed  by 
God’s  command*  on  each  side  of  the  ark,  look- 
ing towards  the  mercy-seat  in  wonder  and  ad- 
miration, are  an  emblem  of  the  awe  with  which 
the  heavenly  spirits  were  seized  at  the  sight  of 
God’s  supreme  mercy  in  becoming  the  propitia- 
tion for  the  world  on  the  sacred  w^ood  of  His 
cross.  Who.  then,  can  contain  his  astonish- 
ment or  forbear  to  exclaim  wTith  Hoses:  “0 
Lord  God,  merciful  and  gracious,  patient  and 
of  much  compassion,  and  true  ! ” f Who  would 
not,  like  Elias,  J cover  his  eyes  did  he  see  God 
passing,  not  in  the  splendor  of  His  majesty, 
but  in  the  depths  of  His  humiliation  ; not  in 
the  might  of  His  power,  moving  mountains 
and  rending  rocks,  but  as  a malefactor,  deliv- 
ered to  the  cruelties  of  a brutal  multitude  ? 
While,  then,  wre  confess  our  inability  to  under- 
stand this  incomprehensible  mystery,  will  we 

* Exod.  xxv.  18.  t Exod.  xxxiv.  6.  1 3 Kings  xix.  13. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


51 


not  open  our  hearts  to  the  sweet  influence  of 
such  boundless  love,  and  make,  as  far  as  we  are 
able,  a corresponding  return  ? Oh  ! abyss  of 
charity  ! Oil  ! boundless  mercy  ! Oh  ! incom- 
prehensible goodness  ! By  Thy  ignominy,  0 
Lord  ! Thou  hast  purchased  honor  for  me. 
By  Thy  Blood  Thou  hast  washed  away  the 
stains  of  my  sins.  By  Thy  death  Thou  hast 
given  me  life.  By  Thy  tears  Thou  hast  deliv- 
ered me  from  eternal  weeping.  0 best  of 
Fathers  ! how  tenderly  hast  Thou  loved  Thy 
children  ! 0 good  Shepherd,  Who  hast  given 

Thyself  as  food  to  Thy  flock ! 0 faithful 

Guardian,  Who  didst  lay  down  Thy  life  for  the 
creatures  of  Thy  care  ! With  what  tears  can  I 
return  Thy  tears  ? With  what  life  can  I repay 
Thy  life  ? What  are  the  tears  of  a creature 
compared  to  the  tears  of  his  Creator,  or  what 
is  the  life  of  a man  compared  to  that  of  his 
God  ? Think  not,  0 man ! that  thy  debt  is 
less  because  God  suffered  for  all  men  as  well  as 
for  thee.  Each  of  His  creatures  was  as  present 
to  His  Divine  mind  as  if  He  died  for  him 
alone.  His  charity  was  so  great,  the  holy  Doc- 
tors tell  us,  that  had  but  one  man  sinned  He 
would  have  suffered  to  redeem  him.  Consider, 
therefore,  what  thou  owest  a Master  Who  has 
done  so  much  for  thee  and  Who  would  have 
done  still  more  had  thy  welfare  required  it. 

Tell  me,  0 ye  creatures  ! whether  a greater 
benefit,  a more  generous  favor,  a more  binding 
obligation  can  be  conceived.  Tell  me,  0 ye  celes- 
tial choirs  ! whether  God  has  done  for  you  what 
He  has  done  for  us  ? Who,  then,  will  refuse  to 


52 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


give  himself  without  reserve  to  the  service  of  such 
a Master  ? “I  thrice  owe  Thee  all  that  I am, 
0 my  God  !”  exclaims  St.  Anselm.  “By  my 
creation  I owe  Thee  all  that  I am.  Thou  hast 
confirmed  this  debt  by  redeeming  me  ; and  by 
promising  to  be  my  eternal  reward,  Thou  dost 
compel  me  to  give  myself  wholly  to  Thee. 
Why,  then,  do  I not  give  myself  to  One  Who  has 
such  a just  claim  to  my  service  ? Oh  ! insup- 
portable ingratitude  ! Oh!  invincible  hardness 
of  the  human  heart,  which  will  not  be  softened 
by  such  benefits  ! Metals  yield  to  fire  ; iron  is 
made  flexible  in  the  forge  ; and  diamonds  are 
softened  by  the  blood  of  certain  animals.  But 
oh  ! heart  more  insensible  than  stone,  harder 
than  iron,  more  adamant  than  the  diamond,  wilt 
thou  not  be  moved  by  the  fire  of  hell,  or  by  the 
benefits  of  the  ten  derest  of  Fathers,  or  by  the 
Blood  of  the  spotless  Lamb  immolated  for  love 
of  thee  ? ” 

Since  Thy  mercy  and  Thy  love  have  been  so 
powerfully  manifested  for  us,  0 Lord  ! how  is  it 
that  there  are  men  who  do  not  love  Thee,  who 
forget  Thy  benefits  or  use  them  to  offend  Thee? 
To  whom  will  they  give  their  love,  if  they  refuse 
it  to  Thee  ? What  can  touch  them,  if  they  are 
insensible  to  Thy  benefits  ? Ah  ! how  can  I 
refuse  to  serve  a God  Who  has  so  lovingly  sought 
me  and  redeemed  me  ? “ And  I,”  says  our  Sa- 

viour, “if  I be  lifted  up  from  the  earth,  will 
draw  all  things  to  Myself.”*  With  what 
strength,  Lord,  with  what  chains  ? With  the 
strength  of  My  love,  with  the  chains  of  My 

* St.  John  xii.  32. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


53 


benefits.  “ I will  draw  them,”  says  the  Lord  by 
His  Prophet,  “with  the  cords  of  Adam,  with 
the  bands  of  love.”  * Ah  ! who  will  resist  these 
chains,  who  will  refuse  to  yield  to  these  mercies  ? 
If,  then,  it  be  so  great  a crime  not  to  love  this 
sovereign  Lord,  what  must  it  be  to  offend  Him, 
to  break  His  commandments  ? How  can  you  use 
your  hands  to  offend  Him  Whose  hands  are  so 
full  of  benefits  for  you,  Whose  hands  were  nailed 
to  the  cross  for  you  ? When  the  unhappy  wife 
of  the  Egyptian  minister  sought  to  lead  Joseph 
into  sin,  the  virtuous  youth  replied  : “Behold, 
my  master  hath  delivered  all  things  to  me,  and 
knoweth  not  what  he  hath  in  his  own  house  ; 
neither  is  there  anything  which  is  not  in  my 
power  or  that  he  hath  not  delivered  to  me,  but 
thee,  who  art  his  wife.  How,  then,  can  I do 
this  wicked  thing  and  sin  against  my  God  ?”  f 
Mark  the  words  of  Joseph.  He  does  not  say: 
“I  should  not,  or  it  is  not  just  that  1 offend 
Him,”  but  “how  can  I do  this  wicked  thing  ?” 
From  this  let  ns  learn  that  great  favors  should 
not  only  deprive  us  of  the  will,  but,  in  a 
measure,  even  of  the  power,  to  offend  our 
benefactor. 

If,  therefore,  the  son  of  Jacob  felt  such  grati- 
tude for  perishable  benefits,  what  should  be  ours 
for  the  immortal  blessings  God  lms  bestowed 
upon  us  ? Joseph’s  master  entrusted  him  with 
all  his  possessions.  God  has  given  us  not  only 
His  possessions  but  Himself.  What  is  there  on 
earth  that  He  has  not  made  for  us  ? Earth, 
sky,  sun,  moon,  stars,  tides,  birds,  beasts,  fishes 

* Osee  xi.  4.  + Gen.  xxxix.  8,  9. 


54 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


— in  short,  all  things  under  heaven  are  ours, 
and  even  the  riches  of  heaven  itself,  the  glory 
and  happiness  of  eternity.  “All  things  are 
yours, ” says  the  Apostle,  “whether  it  be  Paul, 
or  Apollo,  or  Cephas,  or  the  world,  or  life,  or 
death,  or  things  present,  or  things  to  come  ; for 
all  are  yours,”  * for  all  these  contribute  to  your 
salvation.  And  we  not  only  possess  the  riches 
of  heaven,  but  the  Lord  of  heaven.  He  has 
given  Himself  to  us  in  a thousand  ways  : as  our 
Father,  our  Teacher,  our  Saviour,  our  Master, 
our  Physician,  our  Example,  our  Food,  our  Re- 
ward. In  brief,  the  Father  has  given  us  the 
Son,  and  the  Son  has  made  us  worthy  to  receive 
the  Holy  Ghost,  and  the  Holy  Ghost  has  united 
us  to  the  Father  and  the  Son,  the  Source  of  every 
grace  and  blessing.  Again,  since  God  has  given 
you  all  the  benefits  you  enjoy,  how  can  you  use 
these  benefits  to  outrage  so  magnificent  a Bene- 
factor ? If  you  are  unmindful  of  the  crime  of 
your  ingratitude,  you  are  more  ungrateful  than 
the  savage  beasts,  colder  and  more  hardened 
than  senseless  objects.  St.  Ambrose,  after  Pliny, 
relates  the  story  of  a dog  that  had  witnessed  the 
murder  of  his  master.  All  night  the  faithful 
animal  remained  by  the  body,  howling  most 
piteously,  and  on  the  following  day,  when  a 
concourse  of  people  visited  the  scene,  the  dog 
noticed  the  murderer  among  them,  and  falling 
upon  him  with  rage,  thus  led  to  the  discovery 
of  his  crime.  If  poor  animals  testify  so  much 
love  and  fidelity  for  a morsel  of  bread,  will  you 
return  offences  for  divine  benefits  ? If  a dog 

* 1 Cor.  iii.  22. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


55 


will  manifest  such  indignation  against  his 
master’s  murderer,  how  can  you  look  with  in- 
difference on  the  murderers  of  your  sovereign 
Lord  ? And  who  are  these  murderers  ? None 
other  than  your  sins.  Yes,  your  sins  appre- 
hended Him  and  bound  Him  with  ignominious 
fetters,  loaded  Him  with  infamy,  overwhelmed 
Him  with  outrages,  bruised  Him  with  blows,  and 
nailed  Him  to  the  cross.  His  executioners  could 
never  have  accomplished  this  without  the  fatal 
aid  of  your  sins.  Will  you,  then,  feel  no  hatred 
for  the  barbarous  enemies  who  put  your  Saviour 
to  death  ? Can  you  look  upon  this  Victim  im- 
molated for  you,  without  feeling  an  increase  of 
love  for  Him  ? All  that  He  did  and  suffered 
upon  earth  was  intended  to  produce  in  our 
hearts  a horror  and  detestation  of  sin.  His 
hands  and  feet  were  nailed  to  the  cross  in  order 
to  bind  sin.  Will  you  render  all  His  sufferings 
and  labors  fruitless  to  you  ? Will  you  remain 
in  the  slavery  of  sin  when  He  purchased  your 
freedom  at  the  price  of  His  Blood  ? Will  you 
not  tremble  at  the  name  of  sin,  which  God  has 
wrought  such  wonders  to  efface  ? Vrhat  more 
could  God  have  done  to  turn  men  from  sin  than 
to  place  Himself  nailed  to  the  cross  between  them 
and  this  terrible  evil  ? What  man  would  dare  to 
offend  God,  were  heaven  and  hell  open  before 
him  ? Yet  a God  nailed  to  a cross  is  a still 
more  terrible  and  appalling  sight.  I know  not 
what  can  move  one  who  is  insensible  to  such 
a spectacle. 


56 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


CHAPTER  Y. 

THE  FIFTH  MOTIVE  WHICH  OBLIGES  US  TO 
PRACTISE  VIRTUE  : THE  BENEFIT  OF  OUR 
JUSTIFICATION. 

TTTHAT  would  the  benefit  of  Redemption 
1/1/  avail  us,  if  it  had  not  been  followed  by 
| f that  of  justification,  through  which  the 
sovereign  virtue  of  Redemption  is  ap- 
plied to  our  souls  ? For  as  the  most  excellent 
remedies  avail  us  nothing  if  not  applied  to  our 
disorders,  so  the  sovereign  remedy  of  Redemp- 
tion would  be  fruitless  were  it  not  applied  to  us 
through  the  benefit  of  justification.  This  is 
the  work  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  to  whom  the  sanc- 
tification of  man  in  a special  manner  belongs. 
It  is  He  Who  attracts  the  sinner  by  His  mercy, 
Who  calls  him,  Who  leads  him  in  the  ways  of 
wisdom,  Who  justifies  him,  Who  raises  him  to 
perfection,  Who  imparts  to  him  the  gift  of  per- 
severance, to  which,  in  the  end,  He  will  add  the 
crown  of  everlasting  glory.  These  are  the  dif- 
ferent degrees  of  grace  contained  in  the  inesti- 
mable benefit  of  justification. 

The  first  of  these  graces  is  our  vocation. 
Man  cannot  throw  off  the  yoke  of  sin  ; he  can- 
not return  from  death  to  life,  nor  from  a child 
of  wrath  can  he  become  a child  of  God,  without 
the  assistance  of  divine  grace.  For  our  Saviour 
has  declared  : “No  man  can  come  to  Me  ex- 
cept the  Father  Who  hath  sent  Me  draw 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


57 


him.”  * St.  Thomas  thus  explains  these  words  : 
“As  a stone,  when  other  forces  are  removed, 
naturally  falls  to  the  ground,  and  cannot  rise 
again  without  the  application  of  some  extra- 
neous power,  so  man,  corrupted  by  sin,  ever 
tends  downwards,  attracted  to  earth  by  the  love 
of  perishable  possessions,  and  cannot,  without 
the  intervention  of  divine  grace,  rise  to  heavenly 
things  or  a desire  for  supernatural  perfection.” 
This  truth  merits  our  consideration  and  our 
tears,  for  it  shows  us  the  depth  of  our  misery, 
and  the  necessity  under  which  we  labor  of  in- 
cessantly imploring  the  divine  assistance. 

But  to  return  to  our  subject  : who  can  ex- 
press all  the  benefits  brought  to  us  by  justifi- 
cation ? It  banishes  from  our  souls  sin,  the 
source  of  all  evils.  It  reconciles  us  to  God  and 
restores  us  to  His  friendship  ; for  in  truth  the 
greatest  evil  which  sin  brings  on  us  is  that  it 
makes  us  the  objects  of  God’s  hatred.  God,  be- 
ing infinite  goodness,  must  sovereignly  abhor  all 
that  is  evil.  “ Thou  hatest  all  the  workers  of 
iniquity,”  exclaims  His  prophet;  “Thou  wilt 
destroy  all  that  speak  a lie.  The  bloody  and 
the  deceitful  man  the  Lord  will  abhor.”  f The 
enmity  of  God  is  evidently  the  greatest  of 
evils  for  us,  since  it  cuts  us  off  from  the  friend- 
ship of  God,  the  source  of  every  blessing.  From 
this  misfortune  justification  delivers  us,  restor- 
ing us  to  God’s  grace,  and  uniting  us  to  Him 
by  the  most  intimate  love,  that  of  a father  for 
a son.  Hence  the  beloved  disciple  exclaims  : 
“ Behold  what  manner  of  charity  the  Father 

t Ps.  y.  7,  8c 


* St.  John  vi.  44. 


58 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


hath  bestowed  upon  us,  that  we  should  be 
called,  and  should  be  the  sons  of  God.”*  The 
Apostle  would  have  us  understand  that  we  bear 
not  only  the  name  but  are  in  truth  the  sons  of 
God,  in  order  that  we  may  appreciate  the  liber- 
ality and  magnificence  of  God’s  mercy  to  us. 

If  God’s  enmity  be  such  a terrible  misfor- 
tune, what  an  incomparable  blessing  His  friend- 
ship must  be  ! For  it  is  an  axiom  in  philosophy 
that  according  as  a thing  is  evil,  so  is  its  oppo- 
site good  ; hence  the  opposite  of  that  which  is 
supremely  evil  must  be  supremely  good.  Now’, 
man’s  supreme  evil  is  the  enmity  of  God  ; 
therefore,  his  supreme  good  must  be  the  friend- 
ship of  God.  If  men  set  such  value  upon  the 
favor  of  their  masters,  their  fathers,  their 
princes,  their  kings,  how  highly  should  they  es- 
teem this  sovereign  Master,  this  most  excellent 
Father,  this  King  of  kings,  compared  to  whom 
all  power  and  riches  and  principalities  are  as  if 
they  were  not ! 

The  benefit  we  are  considering  is  largely  en- 
hanced by  the  liberality  with  which  it  is  bestow- 
ed. For  as  man  before  his  creation  was  unable 
to  merit  the  gift  of  existence,  so  after  his  fall 
he  could  do  nothing  to  merit  his  justification. 
No  act  of  his  could  satisfy  the  Creator,  in 
Whose  sight  he  was  an  object  of  hatred. 

Another  blessing  flowing  from  justification  is 
our  deliverance  from  the  eternal  pains  of  hell. 
Having  driven  God  from  him  by  sin  ; having 
despised  His  love,  man  in  his  turn  is  justly  re- 
jected by  God.  Inordinate  love  for  creatures 

* St.  1 John  iii.  1. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


59 


led  him  away  from  the  Creator,  and,  therefore, 
it  is  but  just  that  these  same  creatures  should 
be  the  instruments  of  his  punishment.  There- 
fore, he  was  condemned  to  the  eternal  pains  of 
hell,  compared  to  which  the  sufferings  of  this 
life  are  so  light  that  they  appear  more  imaginary 
than  real.  Add  to  these  torments  the  undying 
worm  which  unceasingly  gnaws  the  conscience 
of  the  sinner.  What  shall  I say  of  his  society, 
demons  of  perversity  and  reprobate  men  ? Con- 
sider also  the  confusion  and  darkness  of  this 
terrible  abode,  where  there  is  no  rest,  no  joy, 
no  peace,  no  hope,  but  eternal  rage  and  blas- 
phemies, perpetual  weeping  and  ceaseless  gnash- 
ing of  teeth.  Behold  the  torments  from  which 
God  delivers  those  whom  He  justifies. 

Another  benefit  of  justification,  more  spiritual 
and  therefore  less  apparent,  is  the  regeneration 
of  the  interior  man  deformed  by  sin.  For  sin 
deprives  the  soul  not  only  of  God  but  of  all  her 
supernatural  power,  of  the  graces  and  gifts  of 
the  Holy  Ghost,  in  which  her  beauty  and 
strength  consist.  A soul  thus  stripped  of  the 
riches  of  grace  is  weakened  and  paralyzed  in  all 
her  faculties.  For  man  is  essentially  a rational 
creature,  but  sin  is  an  act  contrary  to  reason. 
Hence,  as  opposites  destroy  each  other,  it  fol- 
lows that  the  greater  and  the  more  numerous  our 
sins  are,  the  greater  must  be  the  ruin  of  the  facul- 
ties of  the  soul,  not  in  themselves,  but  in  their 
power  of  doing  good.  Thus  sin  renders  the 
soul  miserable,  weak  and  torpid,  inconstant  in 
good,  cowardly  in  resisting  temptation,  slothful 
in  the  observance  of  God’s  commandments.  It 


60 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


deprives  her  of  true  liberty  and  of  that  sove- 
reignty which  she  should  never  resign  ; it  makes 
her  a slave  to  the  world,  the  flesh,  and  the 
devil  ; it  subjects  her  to  a harder  and  more 
wretched  servitude  than  that  of  the  unhappy 
Israelites  in  Egypt  or  Babylon.  Sin  so  dulls 
and  stupefies  the  spiritual  senses  of  man  that  he 
is  deaf  to  God’s  voice  and  inspirations  ; blind 
to  the  dreadful  calamities  which  threaten  him  ; 
insensible  to  the  sweet  odor  of  virtue  and  the 
example  of  the  saints  ; incapable  of  tasting  how 
sweet  the  Lord  is,  or  feeling  the  touch  of  His 
benign  hand  in  the  benefits  which  should  be  a 
constant  incitement  to  his  greater  love.  More- 
over, sin  destroys  the  peace  and  joy  of  a good 
conscience,  takes  away  the  soul’s  fervor,  and 
leaves  her  an  object  abominable  in  the  eyes  of 
God  and  His  saints. 

The  grace  of  justification  delivers  us  from  all 
these  miseries.  For  God,  in  His  infinite  mercy, 
is  not  content  with  effacing  our  sins  and  restor- 
ing us  to  His  favor ; He  delivers  us  from  the 
evils  sin  has  brought  upon  us,  and  renews  the 
interior  man  in  his  former  strength  and  beauty. 
Thus  He  heals  our  wounds,  breaks  our  bonds, 
moderates  the  violence  of  our  passions,  restores 
with  true  liberty  the  supernatural  beauty  of 
the  soul,  re-establishes  us  in  the  peace  and  joy 
of  a good  conscience,  reanimates  our  interior 
senses,  inspires  us  with  ardor  for  good  and  a 
salutary  hatred  of  sin,  makes  us  strong  and 
constant  in  resisting  evil,  and  thus  enriches  us 
with  an  abundance  of  good  works.  In  fine,  He 
so  perfectly  renews  the  inner  man  with  all  his 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


61 


faculties  that  the  Apostle  calls  those  who  are 
thus  justified  “new  men  and  new  creatures.”  * 

This  renewal  of  the  inner  man  is  so  powerful, 
so  true,  that  in  baptism  it  is  called  regeneration, 
m penance  resurrection  ; not  only  because  it 
restores  the  soul  from  death  of  sin  to  the  life  of 
grace,  but  because  it  is  an  anticipation  of  the 
last  glorious  resurrection.  No  tongue  can  ex- 
press the  beauty  of  a justified  soul  ; only  the 
Holy  Spirit,  Who  is  pleased  to  dwell  therein, 
can  tell  the  sweetness,  loveliness,  and  strength 
with  which  He  has  enriched  her.  The  beauty, 
the  power,  the  riches  of  earth  fade  into  insigni- 
ficance before  the  unspeakable  beauty  of  a soul 
in  a state  of  grace.  As  far  as  heaven  is  above 
earth,  as  far  as  mind  is  above  matter,  so  far 
does  the  life  of  grace  exceed  that  of  nature,  so 
far  does  the  invisible  beauty  of  a soul  exceed 
the  visible  beauty  of  this  world.  God  Himself 
is  enamored  with  this  divine  beauty.  He 
adorns  such  souls  with  infused  virtues  and  the 
seven  gifts  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  imparting,  at 
the  same  time,  renewed  strength  and  splendor 
to  all  her  powers. 

Moreover,  God,  in  His  boundless  liberality, 
sends  us  the  Holy  Ghost  Himself,  whilst  the 
three  Divine  Persons  take  up  their  abode  in  a 
soul  thus  prepared,  in  order  to  teach  her  to 
make  a noble  use  of  the  riches  with  which  she 
is  endowed.  Like  a good  father,  God  not  only 
leaves  His  inheritance  to  His  children,  but  also 
sends  them  a prudent  guardian  to  administer  it. 
This  guardian  is  no  other  than  God  Himself, 

* 2 Cor.  iv.  10  and  Gal.  vi.  15. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


for,  as  Christ  has  declared,  “If  any  man  love 
Me,  he  will  keep  My  word,  and  My  Father  will 
love  him,  and  We  will  come  to  him  and  will 
make  Our  abode  with  him.”  * 

From  these  words  the  Doctors  of  the  Church 
and  theologians  conclude  that  the  Holy  Spirit 
resides  in  a special  manner  in  the  soul  of  a just 
man,  and,  distinguishing  between  the  Holy  Spirit 
and  His  gifts,  they  declare  that  the  soul  not  only 
enjoys  these  gifts  but  also  the  real  presence  of 
their  Divine  Author.  Entering  such  a soul, 
God  transforms  her  into  a magnificent  temple. 
He  Himself  purifies,  sanctifies,  and  adorns  her, 
making  her  a fitting  habitation  for  her  Supreme 
Guest.  Contrast  this  glorious  state  with  the 
miserable  condition  of  a soul  in  sin,  the  abode 
of  evil  spirits  and  of  every  abomination,  f 

Still  another  more  marvellous  benefit  of  jus- 
tification is  that  it  transforms  the  soul  into  a 
living  member  of  Christ.  This,  again,  is  the 
source  of  new  graces  and  privileges,  for  the  Son 
of  God,  loving  and  cherishing  us  as  His  own 
members,  infuses  into  us  that  virtue  which  is 
His  life,  and,  as  our  Head,  continually  guides 
and  directs  us.  How  tenderly,  too,  does  the 
Heavenly  Father  look  upon  such  souls,  as  mem- 
bers of  His  Divine  Son,  united  to  Him  by  the 
participation  of  the  same  Holy  Spirit  ! Their 
works,  therefore,  are  pleasing  to  Him,  and 
meritorious  in  His  sight,  si  nee  it  is  Jesus  Christ, 
His  only  Son,  who  lives  and  acts  in  them. 
Hence,  with  what  confidence  they  address  God 
in  prayer,  because  it  is  not  so  much  for  them- 

* St.  John  xiv.  23.  t St.  Matt.  xii.  45. 


'Flie  Sinner’s  Guide . 


63 


selves  as  for  Ilis  Divine  Son  that  they  pray,  since 
to  Him  all  the  honor  of  their  lives  redounds. 
For  as  the  members  of  the  body  can  receive  no 
benefit  of  which  the  Head  does  not  partake,  so 
neither  can  Christ,  the  Head  of  all  the  just,  be 
separated  from  their  virtues  or  merits.  If  it  be 
true,  as  the  Apostle  tells  us,*  that  they  who  sin 
against  the  members  of  Jesus  Christ  sin  against 
Jesus  Christ  Himself,  and  that  He  regards  a 
persecution  directed  against  His  members  as 
directed  against  Himself, f is  it  astonishing  that 
He  regards  the  honor  paid  to  His  members  as 
paid  to  Himself  ? Pray,  then,  with  confidence, 
remembering  that  your  petitions  ascend  to  the 
Eternal  Father  in  ihe  name  of  His  Son,  Who  is 
your  Head.  For  Ilis  sake  they  will  be  heard, 
and  will  redound  to  His  honor  ; for,  as  is  gene- 
rally admitted,  when  we  ask  a favor  for  the  sake 
of  another,  it  is  granted,  not  so  much  to  the  one 
who  receives  it  as  to  the  one  for  whose  sake  it  was 
asked.  For  this  reason  we  are  said  to  serve  God 
when  we  serve  the  poor  for  His  sake. 

The  final  benefit  of  justification  is  the  right 
which  it  gives  to  eternal  life.  God  is  infinitely 
merciful  as  well  as  infinitely  just,  and  while  lie 
condemns  impenitent  sinners  to  eternal  misery, 
He  rewards  the  truly  repentant  with  eternal 
happiness.  God  could  have  pardoned  men  and 
^restored  them  to  His  favor  without  raising  them 
to  a share  in  His  glory,  yet  in  the  excess  of  His 
mercy  He  adopts  those  whom  He  pardons,  jus- 
tifies those  whom  He  has  adopted,  and  makes 
them  partaker^  of  the  riches  and  inheritance  of 

* 1 Cor.  vi.  15.  t Acts  ix. 


64 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


His  only-begotten  Son.  It  is  the  hope  of  this 
incomparable  inheritance  which  sustains  and 
comforts  the  just  in  all  their  tribulations ; for 
they  feel  even  in  the  midst  of  the  most  cruel 
adversity  that  “that  which  is  at  present  mo- 
mentary and  light  of  our  tribulation  worketh 
for  us  above  measure  exceedingly  an  eternal 
weight  of  glory.”  * 

These  are  the  graces  comprehended  in  the  ines- 
timable benefit  of  justification,  which  St.  Augus- 
tine justly  ranks  above  that  of  creation. f For 
God  created  the  world  by  a single  act  of  His 
will,  but  to  redeem  it  He  shed  the  last  drop  of 
His  Blood  and  expired  under  the  most  grievous 
torments.  St.  Thomas  gives  a like  opinion  in 
his  “ Sum  of  Theology.” 

Though  it  is  true  that  no  man  can  be  certain 
of  his  justification,  yet  there  are  signs  by  which 
we  can  form  a favorable  judgment.  The  princi- 
pal of  these  is  a change  of  life  ; as,  for  example, 
when  a man  who  without  scruple  hitherto  com- 
mitted innumerable  mortal  sins  would  not  now 
be  guilty  of  a single  grave  offence  against  God 
even  to  gain  the  whole  world. 

Let  him,  then,  who  has  attained  these  happy 
dispositions  reflect  upon  what  he  owes  the  Author 
of  his  justification,  Who  has  delivered  him  from 
the  multitude  of  evils  which  are  the  consequen- 
ces of  sin.  and  overwhelmed  him  with  the  benefits 
which  we  have  attempted  to  explain.  And  as 
foi  him  who  has  the  misfortune  to  be  still  in  a 
state  of  sin,  I know  nothing  more  efficacious  to 
rouse  him  from  his  miserable  condition  than 

t Super  Joan  lxxii.  9. 


* 2 Cor.  iv.  17. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


65 


the  consideration  of  the  evils  which  sin  brings 
in  its  train,  and  of  the  blessings  which  flow  from 
the  incomparable  benefit  of  justification. 

The  effects  produced  in  the  soul  by  the  Holy 
Ghost  do  not  end  here.  This  Divine  Spirit, 
not  content  with  causing  us  to  enter  the  path 
of  justice,  maintains  us  therein,  strengthening 
us  against  all  obstacles  until  we  arrive  at  the 
haven  of  salvation.  His  love  will  not  permit 
Him  to  remain  idle  in  a soul  which  He  honors 
by  His  presence.  He  sanctifies  her  with  His 
virtue,  and  effects  in  her  and  by  her  all  that  is 
necessary  to  win  eternal  life.  He  dwells  in  the 
soul  as  a father  in  the  midst  of  a family,  pre- 
serving order  and  peace  by  his  prudent  author- 
ity ; as  a master  in  the  midst  of  his  disciples, 
teaching  lessons  of  Divine  wisdom  ; as  a garden- 
er in  a garden  confided  to  his  intelligent  care  ; 
as  a king  in  his  kingdom,  ruling  and  directing 
all  ; as  the  sun  in  the  midst  of  the  universe, 
enlightening  and  vivifying  her,  and  directing 
all  her  movements.  Possessing  in  an  eminent 
degree  all  the  good  that  is  in  creatures,  He 
produces,  but  in  a far  more  perfect  manner,  all 
the  effects  of  which  these  creatures  are  capable. 
As  fire  He  vivifies  our  understanding,  enkin- 
dles our  will,  and  detaches  us  from  earth  to 
raise  us  to  heavenly  things  ; as  a dove  He  ren- 
ders us  sweet,  gentle,  and  compassionate  to  one 
another;  as  a cloud  He  shelters  us  from  the 
burning  sensuality  of  the  flesh,  and  tempers  the 
heat  of  our  passions  ; as  a violent  wind  He  im- 
pels our  wills  to  good  and  sweeps  all  evil  af- 
fections from  our  hearts.*  Hence  it  is  that  just 


66 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


souls  abhor  the  Tices  which  they  formerly 
loved,  and  embrace  the  virtues  from  which 
they  formerly  shrank.  Witness  David,  who 
cries  out:  “I  have  hated  and  abhorred  ini- 
quity: ...  I have  rejoiced  in  the  way  of  Thy 
testimonies  as  much  as  in  all  riches. ” * 

It  is  to  the  Holy  Ghost  that  we  are  indebted 
for  all  our  progress  in  wirtue.  It  is  He  who 
preserves  us  from  evil  and  maintains  us  in 
good.  It  is  He  who  is  the  principle  of  our  per- 
severance, and  who  finally  crowns  us  in  Hea- 
ven. This  it  was  which  led  St.  Augustine  to 
say  that  in  rewarding  our  merits  God  but 
crowns  His  own  gifts,  f The  holy  patriarch 
Joseph,  not  content  with  giving  to  his  brethren 
the  corn  which  they  came  to  purchase,  ordered 
also  that  the  money  which  they  paid  for  it 
should,  be  secretly  returned  to  them.  God 
treats  His  elect  with  still  greater  liberality.  He 
not  only  gives  them  eternal  life,  but  furnishes 
them  the  grace  and  virtue  to  attain  it.  “ We 
adore  Him,”  says  Eusebius  Emissenus,  “that 
He  may  be  merciful  to  us,  but  He  has  already 
been  merciful  to  us  in  giving  us  grace  to  adore 
Him.” 

Let  each  one,  then,  glance  over  his  life  and 
consider,  as  the  same  holy  Doctor  suggests,  all 
the  good  he  has  been  permitted  to  do,  and  all 
the  sins  of  impurity,  injustice,  and  sacrilege 
from  which  he  has  been  preserved,  and  he  will 
comprehend  in  some  measure  what  he  owes  to 
God.  On  this  point  St.  Augustine  well  ob- 
serves that  God  shows  no  less  mercy  in  preserv- 

* Ps.  cxviii.  t “ Confess.,”  i.  20. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


67 


ing  man  from  sin  than  in  pardoning  him  after 
he  has  fallen.*  Indeed,  it  is  a greater  proof  of 
love.  Therefore,  the  same  saint,  writing  to  a 
virgin,  says  : “ Man  should  consider  that  God 
has  pardoned  him  all  the  sins  from  which  He 
lias  preserved  him.  Think  not,  therefore,  that 
you  may  love  this  Master  with  a feeble  love 
because"  He  has  pardoned  you  but  few  sins. 
Your  debt  of  love,  on  the  contrary,  is  greater 
for  His  preventing  grace  which  has  saved  you 
from  committing  many.  For  if  a man  must 
love  a creditor  who  forgives  him  a debt,  how 
much  more  reason  has  he  to  love  a benefactor 
who  gratuitously  bestows  upon  him  a like 
amount  ? For  if  a man  live  chastely  all  his 
life,  it  is  God  AVho  preserves  him  ; if  he  be 
converted  from  immorality  to  a pure  life,  it  is 
God  AVho  reforms  him  ; and  if  he  continue  in 
his  disorders  till  the  end,  it  is  also  God  AArho 
justly  forsakes  him.” 

AVhat,  then,  should  our  conclusion  be  but  to 
unite  our  voices  with  the  prophet,  saying  : Let 
my  mouth  be  filled  with  praise,  that  I may  sing 
Tiiy  glory,  Thy  greatness  all  the  day  long”  ?f 
St.  Augustine,  commenting  upon  these  wrords 
of  the  prophet,  asks  : “ AATiat  means  all  the  day 
long  ? ” And  he  answers  : “ Under  all  circum- 
stances and  without  interruption.  Yes,  Lord,  I 
will  praise  Thee  in  prosperity  because  Thou 
dost  comfort  me,  and  in  adversity  because  Thou 
dost  chastise  me.  For  my  whole  being  I will 
praise  Thee,  because  Thou  art  its  Author.  In 
my  repentance  I will  praise  Thee,  because  Thou 

* “Conf.,”  ii.  7.  tPs.  Ixx.  8. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


dost  pardon  me.  In  my  perseverance  I will 
praise  Thee,  because  Thou  wilt  crown  me. 
Thus,  0 Lord  ! my  mouth  will  be  filled  with 
Thy  praise,  and  I will  sing  Thy  glory  all  the 
day  long.” 

It  would  be  fitting  to  speak  here  of  the  sacra- 
ments, the  instruments  of  justification,  particu- 
larly of  Baptism,  and  the  divine  light  and  prin- 
ciple of  faith  which  it  imprints  on  our  souls. 
But  as  this  subject  has  been  more  fully  treated 
in  another  work,  we  will  confine  ourselves,  for 
the  present,  to  the  Eucharist,  that  Sacrament 
of  sacraments,  which  gives  to  us  as  our  daily 
food  and  sovereign  remedy  God  Himself.  He 
was  offered  once  for  us  on  the  cross,  but  He  is 
daily  offered  for  us  on  the  altar.  “ This  is  My 
Body,”  Christ  has  declared  ; “ do  this  for  a com- 
memoration of  Me.”  * Oh  ! sacred  Pledge  of 
our  salvation  ! Oh  ! incomparable  Sacrifice  ! 
Oh  ! Victim  of  love  ! Oh  ! Bread  of  life  ! Oh  ! 
sweet  and  delicious  Banquet ! Oh  ! Food  of 
kings  ! Oh  ! Manna  containing  all  sweetness 
and  delight ! Who  can  fittingly  praise  Thee  ? 
Who  can  worthily  receive  Thee  ? Who  can  love 
and  venerate  Thee  as  Thou  dost  deserve  ? My 
soul  faints  at  the  thought  of  Thee  ; my  lips  are 
mute  in  Thy  presence,  for  I cannot  extol  Thy 
marvels  as  I desire. 

Had  our  Lord  reserved  this  favor  for  the 
pure  and  innocent  it  would  still  be  a mercy 
beyond  our  comprehension.  But  in  His  bound- 
less love  He  does  not  refuse  to  descend  into 
depraved  hearts,  or  to  joass  through  the  hands 

* St.  Luke  xxii.  19. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


69 


of  unworthy  ministers  who  are  the  slaves  of 
Satan  and  "the  victims  of  their  unruly  pas- 
sions. To  reach  the  hearts  of  His  friends  and 
to  bring  them  His  divine  consolations  He  sub- 
mits to  innumerable  outrages  and  profanations. 
He  was  sold  once  in  His  mortal  life,  but  in  this 
august  Sacrament  He  is  unceasingly  betrayed. 
The  scorn  and  ignominy  of  His  Passion  afflicted 
Him  only  once,  but  in  this  sacred  Banquet  His 
love  and  goodness  are  daily  insulted  and  out- 
raged. Once  He  was  nailed  to  the  cross  be- 
tween two  thieves,  but  in  this  Sacrament  of 
love  His  enemies  crucify  Him  a thousand  times. 

What  return,  then,  can  we  make  to  a Muster 
who  seeks  our  good  in  so  many  ways  ? If  ser- 
vants obey  and  serve  their  masters  for  a paltry 
support ; if  soldiers  from  a like  motive  brave 
fire  and  s^vord,  what  do  we  not  owe  God,  Who 
maintains  us  with  this  heavenly  Food  ? If  God 
in  the  Old  Law  exacted  so  much  gratitude  from 
the  Israelites  for  the  manna,  which,  with  all  its 
excellence,  was  only  corruptible  food,  what  gra- 
titude will  He  not  expect  for  this  Divine  Nou- 
rishment, incorruptible  in  Itself,  and  conferring 
the  same  blessing  on  all  who  worthily  receive 
It  ? If  we  owe  Him  so  much  for  "the  food 
which  preserves  our  bodily  life,  what  return 
must  we  not  make  Him  for  the  Food  which 
preserves  in  us  the  life  of  grace  ? And,  finally, 
if  our  debt  of  gratitude  be  so  great  for  being 
made  children  of  Adam,  what  do  we  owe  Him 
for  making  us  children  of  God  ? For  it  cannot 
be  denied,  as  Eusebius  Emissenus  observes, 
“ that  the  day  we  are  born  to  eternity  is  infi- 


70 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


nitely  greater  than  the  day  which  brings  us 
forth  to  this  world,  with  all  its  suffering  and 
dangers.” 

Here,  then,  dear  Christian,  is  another  motive 
which  should  induce  you  to  serve  God,  another 
link  in  that  chain  which  should  bind  you  ir- 
revocably to  your  Creator. 


CHAPTER  VI. 

THE  SIXTH  MOTIVE  WHICH  OBLIGES  US  TO 
PRACTISE  VIRTUE  : THE  INCOMPREHENSIBLE 
BENEFIT  OF  ELECTION. 

TO  all  the  benefits  which  we  have  just  enume- 
rated we  must  add  that  of  election,  or  pre- 
destination, which  belongs  to  those  whom 
God  has  chosen  from  all  eternity  to  be 
partakers  of  His  glory.  The  Apostle,  in  his 
Epistle  to  the  Ephesians,*  thus  gives  thanks,  in 
his  own  name  and  that  of  the  elect,  for  this 
inestimable  benefit:  “Blessed  be  God  and  the 
Father  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  Who  hath 
blessed  us  with  every  spiritual  blessing  in  hea- 
venly places,  in  Christ ; as  He  chose  us  in  Him 
before  the  foundation  of  the  world,  that  we 
should  be  holy  and  unspotted  in  His  sight,  in 
charity  ; Who  hath  predestinated  us  unto  the 
adoption  of  children  through  Jesus  Christ  unto 
Himself,  according  to  the  purpose  of  His  will.” 
The  Royal  Prophet  thus  extols  this  same  bene- 

* Eph.  i.  3,  4,  5. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


71 


fit : “ Blessed  is  lie  whom  Thou  hast  chosen  and 
taken  to  Thee  ; he  shall  dwell  in  Thy  courts.”  * 
Election,  therefore,  may  be  justly  called  the 
grace  of  graces,  since  God,  in  His  boundless 
liberality,  bestows  it  upon  us  before  we  have 
merited  it ; for,  while  giving  to  each  one  what 
is  necessary  for  his  salvation,  He  wills,  as  abso- 
lute master  of  His  gifts,  to  bestow  them  in 
greater  abundance  upon  certain  souls,  without 
any  injury,  however,  to  others  less  favored.  It 
is  also  the  grace  of  graces  not  only  because  it  is 
the  greatest,  but  because  it  is  the  source  of  all  the 
others.  For  in  predestining  man  to  glory  God 
determines  to  bestow  upon  him  all  the  graces 
necessary  to  attain  this  happiness.  This  He  has 
declared  by  the  mouth  of  His  prophet : “I  have 
loved  thee  with  an  everlasting  love ; therefore 
have  I drawn  thee,  taking  pity  on  thee.”  f 
This  truth  is  still  more  clearly  expressed  by  the 
Apostle  : “ For  whom  He  foreknew  He  also 
predestinated  to  be  made  conformable  to  the 
image  of  His  Son,  that  He  might  be  the  first- 
born amongst  many  brethren.  And  whom  He 
predestinated,  them  also  He  called.  And  whom 
He  called,  them  also  He  justified.  And  whom 
He  justified,  them  also  He  glorified.”  J A fa- 
ther who  destines  his  son  for  a special  career  in 
life  prepares  and  educates  him  from  his  boyhood 
with  a view  to  this  career.  In  like  manner, 
when  God  has  predestined  a soul  to  eternal 
happiness  He  directs  her  in  the  path  of  justice, 
that  she  may  attain  the  end  f6r  which  He  has 
chosen  her. 

* Pa.  lxiv.  5.  t Jeremiae  xxxi.  3.  X Rom,  viii.  29,  30. 


72 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


All,  therefore,  who  recognize  in  themselves 
any  mark  of  election  should  bless  God  for  this 
great  and  eternal  benefit.  Though  it  is  a secret 
hidden  from  human  eyes,  yet  there  are  certain 
signs  of  election,  as  there  are  of  justification  ; 
and  as  the  first  mark  of  our  justification  is  the 
conversion  of  our  lives,  so  the  surest  mark  of 
our  predestination  is  our  perseverance  in  the 
good  thus  begun.  He  who  has  lived  for  a num- 
ber of  years  in  the  fear  of  God,  carefully  avoid- 
ing sin,  may  hope  that  God,  in  the  words  of  the 
Apostle,  “ will  confirm  him  unto  the  end  with- 
out crime,  in  the  day  of  the  coming  of  our  Lord 
Jesus  Christ.”  * 

No  man,  however,  can  be  certain  of  his  per- 
severance or  election.  Did  not  Solomon,  the 
wisest  of  kings,  after  having  lived  virtuously 
for  many  years,  fall  into  iniquity  in  his  old  age  ? 
Yet  his  example  is  one  of  the  exceptions  to  the 
rule,  which  he  himself  teaches  in  these  words: 
“ It  is  a proverb : A young  man  according  to 
his  way,  even  vThen  he  is  old  he  will  not  depart 
from  it”  ;f  so  that  if  his  youth  has  been# vir- 
tuous his  old  age  will  likewise  be  honorable. 
From  these  and  similar  indications  to  be  found 
in  the  lives  of  the  saints  a man  may  humbly 
hope  that  God  has  numbered  him  among  the 
elect,  that  his  name  is  written  in  the  Book  of 
Life. 

How  great,  then,  should  be  our  gratitude  for 
such  a benefit  ! God  Himself  tells  His  Apos- 
tles: “ Rejoice  not  in  this,  that  spirits  are 
subject  unto  you  ; but  rejoice  in  this,  that  your 

* 1 Cor.  i.  8.  t Prov.  xxii.  6. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


73 


names  are  written  in  heaven/5  * What,  in  fact, 
can  be  a greater  happiness  than  to  have  been 
from  all  eternity  the  object  of  God’s  love  and 
choice  ; to  have  had  a privileged  place  in  His 
Heart  throughout  the  eternal  years  ; to  have 
been  chosen  as  the  child  of  His  adoption  before 
the  birth  of  His  Son  according  to  nature  ; and 
to  have  been  always  present  to  His  Divine  Mind, 
clothed  in  the  splendor  of  the  saints  ! 

Weigh  all  the  circumstances  of  this  election, 
and  you  will  find  that  each  of  them  is  an 
extraordinary  favor,  a new  motive  to  love  and 
serve  God.  Consider  first  the  greatness  of  Him 
Who  has  chosen  you.  It  is  God  Himself,  Who, 
being  infinitely  rich  and  infinitely  happy,  had 
no  need  of  you  or  any  other  creature.  Next 
represent  to  yourself  the  profound  unworthiness 
of  the  object  of  this  election — a miserable  crea- 
ture exposed  to  all  the  infirmities  of  this  life, 
and  deserving  by  his  sins  the  eternal  torments 
of  the  future.  Reflect,  too,  how  glorious  is  this 
elation,  by  which  you  are  raised  to  the  dignity 
ofa  child  of  God  and  heir  to  His  kingdom. 
Consider,  farther,  how  generously  and  gratui- 
tously this  favor  is  bestowed.  It  preceded  all 
merit  on  our  part,  and  sprang  solely  from  the 
good  pleasure  and  mercy  of  God,  and,  accord- 
ing to  the  Apostle,  turns  “unto  the  praise  of 
the  glory  of  His  grace.”  f Now,  the  more  gra- 
tuitous a favor  is,  the  greater  the  obligation  it 
imposes. 

The  origin  and  the  antiquity  of  this  election 
also  merit  special  consideration.  It  did  not  be- 

* Luke  x.  20.  t Ephes.  i.  6.  . 


74 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


gin  witli  this  world  ; it  preceded  the  existence 
of  the  universe  ; it  was  coeval  with  the  very 
existence  of  God.  From  all  eternity  He  loved 
His  elect.  They  were  ever  present  to  Him,  and 
His  will  to  render  them  eternally  happy  was  as 
fixed  as  His  own  Being.  Observe,  finally,  what 
a singular  benefit  this  is.  Among  the  many  na- 
tions plunged  in  the  darkness  of  paganism, 
among  the  many  souls  condemned  to  perdition, 
you  have  been  selected  to  share  the  happy  lot  of 
the  elect.  Out  of  the  mass  of  perdition  He  has 
raised  you,  and  the  leaven  of  corruption  and 
death  He  has  changed  into  the  bread  of  Angels 
and  the  wheat  of  the  elect.  The  value  of  this 
benefit  is  still  farther  increased  when  we  reflect 
how  small  is  the  number  of  the  elect  and  how 
great  is  the  number  of  the  lost.  Solomon  says 
that  “the  number  of  fools” — that  is,  the  re- 
probate— “ is  infinite.”  * But  if  none  of  these 
considerations  move  you,  be  touched  at  least  by 
the  sight  of  all  that  it  has  cost  God  to  confer 
this  immortal  benefit  on  you.  He  purchased  it 
for  you  with  the  Life  and  Blood  of  His  only 
Son  ; for  He  resolved  from  all  eternity  to  send 
Him  into  this  world  to  execute  His  loving  and 
merciful  decree.  Who,  then,,  would  be  so  base 
as  to  wait  until  the  end  of  his  life  to  love 
God,  Who  has  loved  him  from  eternity  ? “ For- 
sake not  an  old  friend,”  we  are  told  in  Scrip- 
ture, f “for  a new  one  will  not  be  like  him.” 
Who,  then,  will  forsake  this  Friend  Whose  love 
for  us  had  no  beginning,  and  Whose  claim  to 
our  love  is  likewise  from  eternity  ? Who  will 

* Eccles.  i.  15.  t Ecclus.  ix.  14. 


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75 


not  give  up  all  the  goods  of  this  world,  who  will 
not  bear  all  the  evils  of  this  world,  to  share  in 
this  blessed  friendship  ? How  great  would  be 
our  respect  for  the  poorest  beggar  were  we  as- 
sured by  divine  revelation  that  he  was  predes- 
tined to  share  God’s  glory  ! Would  we  not  kiss 
the  ground  upon  which  he  trod  ? “ 0 happy 

soul  ! ” we  would  cry.  “ 0 enviable  lot  ! Is  it 
possible  that  thou  art  surely  to  behold  God  in 
all  the  splendor  of  His  majesty  ? Art  thou  to 
rejoice  with  the  angels  for  ever  ? AYjII  thy  ears 
be  ravished  with  sweet  music  for  all  eternity  ? 
Art  thou  to  gaze  upon  the  radiant  beauty  of 
Christ  and  His  blessed  Mother?  Oh  ! happy  day 
when  thou  wast  born  ! .But  happier  still  the 
day  of  thy  death,  which  will  introduce  thee  to 
eternal  life.  Happy  the  bread  thou  eatest  and 
the  ground  upon  which  thou  dost  tread  ! Hap- 
pier still  the  pains  and  insults  thou  endurest, 
for  they  open  to  thee  the  way  to  eternal  rest ! 
For  what  clouds,  what  tribulations,  can  over- 
come the  power  and  joy  of  such  a hope  as 
thine  ? ” 

We  would  doubtless  break  out  into  such 
transports  as  these  did  we  behold  and  recognize 
a predestined  soul.  For  if  people  run  out  to 
see  a prince,  the  heir  to  a great  kingdom,  as  he 
passes  through  the  street,  marvelling  at  his  good 
fortune,  as  the  world  esteems  it,  how  much  more 
reason  have  we  to  marvel  at  the  happy  lot  of 
one  who,  without  any  previous  merit  on  his 
part,  has  been  elected  from  his  birth,  not  to  a 
temporal  kingdom,  but  to  reign  eternally  in 
heaven  ! 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


You  may  thus  understand,  dear  Christian, 
the  gratitude  the  elect  owe  to  God.  And  yet 
there  is  no  one,  provided  he  do  what  is  necessary 
dor  salvation,  who  may  not  consider  himself  of 
this  happy  number.  “ Labor,  therefore,  the 
more,”  as  St.  Peter  tells  yon,  “ that  by  good  works 
you  may  make  sure  your  calling  and  election.”  * 
We  should  never  lose  sight,  therefore,  of  our 
end,  for  God’s  grace  is  never  wanting  to  us,  and 
we  can  do  all  things  in  Him  Who  strengthens 
us. 


CHAPTER  VII. 

THE  SEVENTH  MOTIVE  FOK  PRACTISING  VIRTUE  : 
THE  THOUGHT  OF  DEATH,  THE  FIRST  OF  THE 
FOUR  LAST  THINGS. 

A INTY  one  of  the  motives  we  have  just 
\ enumerated  should  be  sufficient  to 
j induce  man  to  give  himself  wholly  to 
the  service  of  a Master  to  Whom  he  is 
bound  by  so  many  ties  of  gratitude.  But 
as  the  generality  of  men  are  more  influenced 
by  personal  interest  than  by  motives  of  justice, 
we  will  here  make  known  the  inestimable  ad- 
vantages of  virtue  in  this  life  and  the  next. 

We  will  first  speak  of  the  greatest  among 
them  : the  glory  which  is  the  reward  of  virtue, 
and  the  terrible  punishment  from  which  it 
delivers  us.  These  two  are  the  principal  oars 
which  propel  us  in  our  voyage  to  eternity.  For 

* 2 St.  Peter  i.  10. 


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77 


this  reason  St.  Francis  and  our  holy  Father  St. 
Dominic,  both  having  been  animated  by  the  same 
spirit,  commanded  in  their  rules  the  preachers 
of  their  orders  to  make  vice  and  virtue,  reward 
and  punishment,  the  only  subjects  of  their  ser- 
mons, in  order  to  instruct  men  in  the  precepts 
of  the  Christian  life  and  to  inspire  them  with 
courage  to  put  them  in  practice.  Moreover,  it 
is  a common  principle  among  philosophers  that 
reward  and  punishment  are  the  most  powerful 
motives  for  good  with  the  mass  of  mankind. 
Such,  alas  ! is  our  misery  that  we  are  not  con- 
tent with  virtue  alone  ; it  must  be  accompanied 
with  the  fear  of  punishment  or  the  hope  of 
reward. 

But  as  there  is  no  reward  or  punishment  so 
worthy  of  our  consideration  as  those  that  never 
end,  we  will  treat  of  eternal  glory  and  eternal 
misery,  together  with  death  and  judgment,  which 
precede  them.  These  are  the  most  powerful 
incentives  to  love  virtue  and  hate  vice,  for  we 
are  told  in  Scripture:  “In  all  thy  works  re- 
member thy  last  end,  and  thou  slialt  never 
sin.”* 

The  first  of  these  is  death.  Let  us,  then, 
consider  it,  for  it  is  a truth  which  of  all  others 
makes  most  impression  upon  us,  from  the  fact 
that  it  is  so  undisputed  and  so  frequently 
brought  before  our  minds.  Especially  do  we 
realize  this  when  we  reflect  on  the  particular 
judgment  which  each  one  must  undergo  as  soon 
as  his  soul  is  separated  from  his  body.  The 
sentence  then  passed  will  be  final ; it  will  endure 

*Ecclu8.  vii.  40. 


78 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


for  all  eternity.  Since,  then,  death  is  such  a 
powerful  motive  to  turn  us  from  sin,  let  us  bring 
this  terrible  hour  more  vividly  before  us. 

Bear  in  mind,  therefore,  that  you  are  a man 
and  a Christian.  As  man,  you  must  die  ; as  a 
Christian,  you  must,  immediately  after  death, 
render  an  account  of  your  life.  The  first  truth 
is  manifest  in  our  daily  experience,  and  the 
second  our  faith  will  not  permit  us  to  doubt. 
No  one,  whether  king  or  pope,  is  exempt  from 
this  terrible  law.  A day  will  come  of  which 
you  will  not  see  the  night,  or  a night  which  for 
you  will  have  no  morning.  A time  will  come, 
and  you  know  not  whether  it  be  this  present  day 
or  to-morrow,  when  you  who  are  now  reading 
my  words,  in  perfect  health  and  in  full  posses- 
sion of  all  your  faculties,  will  find  yourself 
stretched  upon  a bed  of  death,  a lighted  taper 
in  your  hand,  awaiting  the  sentence  pronounc- 
ed against  mankind — a sentence  which  admits 
neither  delay  nor  appeal. 

Consider,  also,  how  uncertain  is  the  hour  of 
death.  It  generally  comes  when  man  is  most 
forgetful  of  eternal  things,  overturning  his  plans 
for  an  earthly  future,  and  opening  before  him 
the  appalling  vision  of  eternity.  Therefore,  the 
Holy  Scriptures  tell  us  that  it  comes  as  a thief  in 
the  night ; that  is,  when  men  are  plunged  in 
sleep  and  least  apprehensive  of  danger.  The 
forerunner  of  death  is  usually  a grave  illness 
with  its  attendant  weariness,  sufferings,  and 
pains,  which  weaken  the  powers  of  the  body  and 
give  entrance  to  the  king  of  terrors.  Just  as  an 
enemy  who  wishes  to  take  a citadel  destroys  the 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


79 


outer  fortifications,  so  death  with  its  vanguard 
of  sickness  breaks  down  the  strength  of  the 
body,  and,  as  it  is  about  to  fall  before  the  re- 
peated assaults  of  its  enemy,  the  soul,  no  longer 
able  to  resist,  takes  its  flight  from  the  ruins. 

Who  can  express  the  anguish  of  the  moment 
when  the  severity  of  the  sickness,  or  the  declara- 
tion of  the  physician,  undeceives  us  and  robs  us 
of  all  hope  of  life  ? The  parting  from  all  we 
hold  dear  then  begins  to  rise  before  us.  Wife, 
children,  friends,  relations,  honors,  riches  are 
fast  passing,  with  life,  from  our  feeble  grasp. 
Then  follow  the  terrible  symptoms  which  pre- 
cede the  awful  hour.  The  coldness  of  death 
seizes  our  members  ; the  countenance  becomes 
deathly  pale  ; the  tongue  refuses  to  perform  its 
duty  ; all  the  senses,  in  fine,  are  in  confusion  and 
disorder  in  the  precipitation  of  this  supreme 
departure.  Strange  resemblance  between  the 
beginningand  the  end  of  our  pilgrimage  ! The 
mystery  of  suffering  seems  to  unite  them  both. 
The  terrified  soul  then  beholds  the  approach  of 
that  agony  which  is  to  terminate  its  temporal 
existence.  Before  the  distracted  mind  rise  the 
horror  and  darkness  of  the  grave,  where  the 
pampered  body  will  become  the  prey  of  worms. 
But  keener  still  is  the  suffering  which  the  soul 
endures  from  the  suspense  and  uncertainty  of 
what  her  fate  will  be  when  she  leaves  her  earthly 
habitation.  You  will  imagine  that  you  are  in 
the  presence  of  your  Sovereign  Judge,  and  that 
your  sins  rise  up  against  you  to  accuse  you  and 
complete  your  condemnation.  The  heinousness 
of  the  evil  you  committed  with  so  much  indif- 


80 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


ference  will  then  be  manifest  to  you.  You  will 
curse  a thousand  times  the  day  you  sinned,  and 
the  shameful  pleasure  which  was  the  cause  of 
your  ruin.  You  will  be  an  object  of  astonish- 
ment and  wonder  to  yourself.  “ How  could  I,” 
you  will  ask,  “for  love  of  the  foolish  things 
upon  which  I set  my  heart,  brave  the  torments 
which  I now  behold?”  The  guilty  pleasures 
will  have  long  since  passed  away,  but  their 
terrible  and  irrevocable  punishment  will  con- 
tinue to  stare  you  in  the  face.  Side  by  side 
with  this  appalling  eternity  of  misery  you  will 
see  the  unspeakable  and  everlasting  lnrppiness 
which  you  have  sacrificed  for  vanities,  transitory 
and  sinful  pleasures.  Everything  you  wiil 
behold  will  be  calculated  to  fill  you  with  terror 
and  remorse.  Life  will  have  been  spent ; there 
will  be  no  time  for  repentance.  Nor  will  the 
friends  you  have  loved  or  the  idols  you  have 
adored  be  able  to  help  you.  On  the  contrary, 
that  which  you  have  loved  during  life  will  be 
the  cause  of  your  most  poignant  anguish  at  the 
hour  of  death.  What,  then,  will  be  your 
thoughts  at  this  supreme  hour  ? To  whom  will 
you  have  recourse  ? Whither  will  you  turn  ? 
To  go  forward  will  be  anguish.  To  go  back  im- 
possible. To  continue  as  you  are  will  not  be 
permitted.  “ It  shall  come  to  pass  in  that  day, 
saith  the  Lord  God,  that  the  sun  shall  go  down 
at  mid-day,  and  I will  make  the  earth  dark  in 
the  daylight.”*  Terrible  words!  Yes,  the 
sun  shall  go  down  at  mid-day,  for  the  sinner  at 
the  sight  of  his  sins,  and  at  the  approach  of  God’s 

* Amos  yiii.  9. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


81 


justice,  already  believes  himself  abandoned  by 
the  Divine  Mercy  ; and  though  life  still  remains, 
with  its  opportunities  for  penance  and  recon- 
ciliation, yet  fear  too  often  drives  hope  from 
the  heart,  and  in  this  miserable  state  he  breathes 
his  last  sigh  in  the  darkness  of  despair. 

Most  powerful  is  this  passion  of  fear.  It 
magnifies  trifles  and  makes  remote  evils  appear 
as  if  present.  Now,  since  this  is  true  of  a 
slight  apprehension,  what  will  be  the  effect  of 
the  terror  inspired  by  a danger  so  great  and  im- 
minent ? The  sinner,  though  still  in  life  and 
surrounded  by  his  friends,  imagines  himself  al- 
ready a prey  to  the  torments  of  the  reprobate. 
His  soul  is  rent  at  the  sight  of  the  possessions 
he  must  leave,  while  he  increases  his  misery  by 
envying  the  lot  of  those  from  whom  he  is  about 
to  be  separated.  Yes,  the  sun  sets  for  him  at 
mid-day,  for,  turn  his  eyes  where  he  will,  all  is 
darkness.  No  ray  of  light  or  hope  illumines 
his  horizon.  If  he  think  of  God’s  mercy  he 
feels  that  he  has  no  claim  upon  it.  If  he  think 
of  God’s  justice  it  is  only  to  tremble  for  its 
execution.  He  feels  that  his  day  is  past  and 
that  God’s  time  has  come.  If  lie  look  back 
upon  his  life  a thousand  accusing  voices  sound 
in  his  ears.  If  he  turn  to  the  present  he  finds 
himself  stretched  upon  a bed  of  death.  If  he 
look  to  the  future  he  there  beholds  his  Su- 
preme Judge  prepared  to  condemn  him.  How 
can  he  free  himself  from  so  many  miseries  and 
terrors  ? 

If,  then,  the  circumstances  which  precede  our 
departure  are  so  terrible,  what  will  be  those 


82 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


which  follow  ? If  such  he  the  vigil  of  this 
great  day,  what  will  be  the  day  itself  ? Man’s 
eyes  are  no  sooner  closed  in  death  than  he  ap- 
pears before  the  judgment-seat  of  God  to  ren- 
der an  account  of  every  thought,  every  word, 
every  action  of  his  life.  If  you  would  learn  the 
severity  and  rigor  of  this  judgment,  ask  not 
men  who  live  according  to  the  spirit  of  this 
world,  for,  like  the  Egyptians  of  old,  they  are 
plunged  in  darkness  and  are  the  sport  of  the 
most  fatal  errors.  Seek,  rather,  those  who  are 
enlightened  by  the  true  Sun  of  justice.  Ask 
the  Saints,  and  they  will  tell  you,  more  by  their 
actions  than  by  their  words,  how  terrible  is  the 
account  we  are  to  render  to  God.  David  was  a 
just  man,  yet  his  prayer  was  : “ Enter  not,  0 
Lord  ! into  judgment  with  Thy  servant,  for  in 
Thy  sight  no  man  living  shall  be  justified.”* 
Arsenius  was  also  a great  saint,  and  yet  at  his 
deatli  he  was  seized  with  such  terror  at  the 
thought  of  God’s  judgment  that  his  disciples, 
who  knew  the  sanctity  of  his  life,  were  much 
astonished,  and  said  to  him:  “Father,  why 
should  you  now  fear?”  To  this  he  replied: 
“My  children,  this  is  no  new  fear  which  is 
upon  me.  It  is  one  that  I have  known  and  felt 
during  my  whole  life.”  It  is  said  that  St.  Aga- 
tho  at  the  hour  of  death  experienced  like  terror, 
and  having  been  asked  why  he,  who  had  led 
such  a perfect  life,  should  fear,  he  simply  an- 
swered : “The  judgments  of  God  are  different 
from  the  judgments  of  men.”  St.  John  Clima- 
ehus  gives  a no  less  striking  example  of  a holy 

* Ps.  cxlii.  2. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


83 


monk,  which  is  so  remarkable  that  I shall  give 
it  as  nearly  as  possible  in  the  Saint’s  own 
words:  “A  religious  named  Stephen,  who 
lived  in  the  same  desert  with  us,  had  a great 
desire  to  embrace  a more  solitary  life.  He  had 
already  acquired  a reputation  for  sanctity,  hav- 
ing been  favored  with  the  gift  of  tears  and  fast- 
ing and  other  privileges  attached  to  the  most 
eminent  virtues.  Having  obtained  his  supe- 
rior’s permission,  he  built  a cell  at  the  foot  of 
Mount  Horeb,  where  Elias  was  honored  by  his 
marvellous  vision  of  God.  Though  his  life 
here  was  one  of  great  sanctity,  yet,  impelled  by 
a desire  for  still  harder  labors  and  greater  per- 
fection, he  withdrew  to  a place  called  Siden,  in- 
habited by  holy  anchorites  who  lived  in  the 
most  complete  solitude.  Here  he  continued 
for  some  years  in  the  practice  of  the  severest 
penance,  cut  off  from  all  human  intercourse  or 
comfort,  for  his  hermitage  was  seventy  miles 
from  any  human  habitation.  As  his  life  ap- 
proached its  term  he  felt  a desire  to  return 
to  his  first  cell  at  the  foot  of  Mount  Horeb, 
where  dwelt  two  disciples,  natives  of  Palestine. 
Shortly  after  his  arrival  he  was  attacked  by  a 
fatal  illness.  The  day  before  his  death  he  fell 
into  a state  resembling  ecstasy.  He  gazed  first 
at  one  side  of  his  bed,  then  at  the  other,  and,  as 
if  engaged  in  conversation  with  invisible  beings 
who  were  demanding  an  account  of  his  life,  was 
heard  crying  out  in  a loud  voice.  Sometimes 
he  would  say  : ‘It  is  true,  I confess  it ; but  I 
have  fasted  many  years  in  expiation  of  that 
sin  ’ ; or,  ‘ It  is  false ; that  offence  cannot  be 


84 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


laid  to  my  charge5 ; or,  again,  ‘Yes,  but  I have 
labored  for  the  good  of  my  neighbor  so  many 
years  in  atonement  thereof.5  To  other  accusa- 
tions he  was  heard  to  tay  : ‘ Alas  ! I cannot  deny 
it;  I can  only  cast  myself  upon  God’s  mercy.5 

“ Surely  this  was  a thrilling  spectacle,55  con- 
tinues the  Saint.  “I  cannot  describe  the  terror 
with  which  we  assisted  at  this  invisible  judg- 
ment. 0 my  God  ! what  will  be  my  fate,  if 
this  faithful  servant,  whose  life  was  one  long 
penance,  knew  not  how  to  answer  some  of  the 
accusations  brought  against  him  ? If  after 
forty  years  of  retirement  and  solitude,  if  after 
having  received  the  gift  of  tears,  and  such  com- 
mand over  nature  that,  as  I am  credibly  in- 
formed, he  fed  with  his  own  hand  a wild  leop- 
ard which  visited  him,  the  saintly  monk  so 
trembled  for  judgment,  and,  dying,  left  us  in 
uncertainty  as  to  his  fate,  what  have  we  not  to 
fear  who  lead  careless  and  indifferent  lives  ? 55  If 
you  ask  me  the  cause  of  this  terror  with  which 
the  Saints  are  filled,  I will  let  St.  Gregory  an- 
swer for  me  : “ Men  aspiring  to  perfection,55 
says  the  holy  Doctor,  “constantly  reflect  upon 
the  justice  of  the  Sovereign  Judge  Who  is  to 
pronounce  sentence  upon  them  in  the  dread 
hour  which  terminates  their  earthly  career. 
They  unceasingly  examine  themselves  upon  the 
account  they  are  to  render  before  this  supreme 
tribunal.  And  if  happily  they  find  themselves 
innocent  of  sinful  actions,  they  still  ask  with 
fear  whether  they  are  equally  free  from  the 
guilt  of  sinful  thoughts.  For  if  it  be  compara- 
tively easy  to  resist  sinful  actions,  it  is  more 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


85 


difficult  to  conquer  in  the  war  which  we  must 
wage  against  evil  thoughts.  And  though  the 
fear  of  God's  judgment  is  always  before  them, 
yet  it  is  redoubled  at  the  hour  of  death,  when 
they  are  about  to  appear  before  His  inflexible 
tribunal.  At  this  moment  the  mind  is  freed 
from  the  disturbances  of  the  flesh;  earthly 
desires  and  delusive  dreams  fade  from  the  im- 
agination ; the  things  of  this  world  vanish  at  the 
portals  of  another  life  ; and  the  dying  man  sees 
but  God  and  himself.  If  he  recall  no  good 
which  he  has  omitted,  yet  he  feels  that  he  can- 
not trust  himself  to  give  a correct  and  impartial 
judgment.  Hence  his  fear  and  terror  of  the 
rigorous  account  to  be  exacted  of  him.”*  Do 
not  these  words  of  the  great  Doctor  prove  that 
this  last  hour  and  this  supreme  tribunal  are 
more  to  be  dreaded  than  worldly  men  imagine  ? 
If  just  men  tremble  at  this  hour,  what  must  be 
the  terror  of  those  who  make  no  preparation 
for  it,  whose  lives  are  spent  in  the  pursuit  of 
vanities  and  in  contempt  of  God’s  command- 
ments ? If  the  cedar  of  Lebanon  be  thus 
shaken,  how  can  the  reed  of  the  wilderness 
stand  ? “And,”  as  St.  Peter  tells  us,  “if  the 
just  man  shall  scarcely  be  saved,  where  shall  the 
ungodly  and  the  sinner  appear  ?”  f 

Deflect,  then,  on  the  sentiments  that  will  be 
yours  when  you  will  stand  before  the  tribunal 
of  God,  with  no  defenders  but  your  good  works, 
with  no  companion  but  your  own  conscience. 
And  if  then  you  will  not  be  able  to  satisfy  your 
Judge,  who  will  give  expression  to  the  bitter- 

* “ Moral.,”  xxiv.  16,  17.  1 1 St.  Peter  iv.  18. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


ness  of  your  anguish  ? For  the  question  at 
issue  is  not  a fleeting  temporal  life,  but  an 
eternity  of  happiness  or  an  eternity  of  misery. 
Whither  will  you  turn  ? What  protection  will 
you  seek  ? Your  tears  will  be  powerless  to 
soften  your  Judge  ; the  time  for  repentance 
will  be  past.  Little  will  honors,  dignities,  and 
wealth  avail  you,  for  “riches,”  says  the  Wise 
Man,  “ shall  not  profit  in  the  day  of  vengeance, 
but  justice  shall  deliver  a man  from  death.”  * 
The  unhappy  soul  can  only  exclaim  with  the 
prophet:  “ The  sorrows  of  death  have  encom- 
passed me,  and  the  perils  of  hell  have  found 
me.”f  Unhappy  wretch!  How  swiftly  this 
hour  has  come  upon  me  ! What  does  it  now 
avail  me  that  I had  friends,  or  honors,  or  dig- 
nities, or  wealth  ? All  that  I can  now  claim  is 
a few  feet  of  earth  and  a winding-sheet.  My 
wealth  which  I hoarded  I must  leave  to  be 
squandered  by  others,  while  the  sins  of  injus- 
tice which  I here  committed  will  pursue  me 
into  the  next  world  and  there  condemn  me  to 
eternal  torments.  Of  all  my  guilty  pleasures 
the  sting  of  remorse  alone  remains.  Why  have 
I made  no  preparation  for  this  hour  ? Why 
was  I deaf  to  the  salutary  warnings  I received  ? 
“ Why  have  I hated  instruction,  and  my  heart 
consented  not  to  reproofs,  and  have  not  heard 
the  voice  of  them  that  taught  me,  and  have  not 
inclined  my  ear  to  my  masters  ?”  J 

To  preserve  you,  my  dear  Christian,  from 
these  vain  regrets,  I beg  you  to  gather  from 
what  has  been  said  three  considerations,  and  to 

* Prov.  xi.  4.  t Ps.  cxiv.  3.  $ Prov.  v.  12,  13. 


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87 


keep  them  continually  before  your  mind.  The 
first  is  the  terrible  remorse  which  your  sins  will 
awaken  in  you  at  the  hour  of  death ; the  second 
is  how  ardently,  though  how  vainly,  you  will 
wish  that  you  had  faithfully  served  Him  during 
life;  and  the  third  is  how  willingly  you  would 
accept  the  most  rigorous  penance  were  you 
given  time  for  repentance.  Acting  on  this  ad- 
vice, you  will  now  begin  to  regulate  your  life 
according  as  you  will  then  wish  to  have  done. 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

THE  EIGHTH  MOTIVE  FOR  PRACTISING  VIRTUE: 
THE  THOUGHT  OF  THE  LAST  JUDGMENT,  THE 
SECOND  OF  THE  FOUR  LAST  THINGS. 

IMMEDIATELY  after  death  follows  the  par- 
ticular judgment,  of  which  we  have  been 
treating.  But  there  is  a day  of  general 
judgment,  when,  in  the  words  of  the  Apostle, 
“we  must  all  be  manifested  before  the  judg- 
ment-seat of  Christ,  that  every  one  may  receive 
the  proper  things  of  the  body,  according  as  he 
hath  done,  whether  it  be  good  or  evil.”  * 

In  considering  this  subject  what  strikes  us  as 
most  amazing,  and  what  filled  the  holy  soul  of 
Job  with  awe,  is  that  a frail  creature  like  man, 
So  prone  to  evil,  should  be  subjected  to  such  a 
rigorous  judgment  on  the  part  of  God,  by  Whose 
command  his  every  thought,  word,  and  action 

* 2 Cor.  v.  10. 


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Tlie  Sumer’s  Guide . 


are  inscribed  in  the  book  of  life.  In  his  aston- 
ishment Job  cries  out:  “ Why  hidest  Thou  Thy 
face,  and  thinkest  me  Thy  enemy  ? Against  a 
leaf,  that  is  carried  away  with  the  wind,  Thou 
showest  Thy  power,  and  Thou  pursuest  a dry 
straw.  For  Thou  writest  bitter  things  against 
me,  and  wilt  consume  me  for  the  sms  of  my 
youth.  Thou  hast  put  my  feet  in  the  stocks, 
and  hast  observed  all  my  paths,  and  hast  con- 
sidered the  steps  of  my  feet:  who  am  to  be  con- 
sumed as  rottenness,  and  as  a garment  that  is 
moth-eaten.55*  And  returning  to  the  same 
subject,  he  continues:  “ Man  born  of  a woman, 
living  for  a short  time,  is  filled  with  many  mis- 
eries ; who  cometli  forth  like  a flower  and  is  de- 
stroyed, and  fleeth  as  a shadow,  and  never  con- 
tinueth  in  the  same  state.  And  dost  Thou 
think  it  meet  to  open  Thy  eyes  upon  such  a one, 
and  to  bring  him  into  judgment  with  Thee? 
'Who  can  make  him  clean  that  is  born  of  un- 
clean seed  ? Is  it  not  Thou  who  only  art  ?55  f 
Thus  does  holy  Job  express  his  astonishment 
at  the  severity  of  the  Divine  Justice  towards 
frail  man,  so  inclined  to  evil,  who  drinks  up 
iniquity  like  water.  That  He  should  have  ex- 
ercised such  severity  towards  the  Angels, who  are 
spiritual  and  perfect  beings,  is  not  a matter  of 
so  much  surprise.  But  it  is  truly  amazing  that 
not  an  idle  word,  not  a wasted  moment,  in  man’s 
life  shall  escape  the  rigor  of  God’s  justice. 
“ But  I say  unto  you  that  every  idle  word  that 
men  shall  speak,  they  shall  render  an  account 
of  it  in  the  day  of  judgment.55  J If  we  must 

* Job  xiii.  24-28.  t xiv.  1-4.  $ St.  Matt.  xii.  36. 


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89 


render  an  account  of  idle  words  which  harm  no 
one,  how  severe  will  he  the  account  exacted  of 
us  for  impure  words,  immodest  actions,  sinful 
glances,  blood-stained  hands,  for  all  the  time 
spent  in  sinful  deeds  ? We  could  hardly  credit 
the  severity  of  this  judgment,  did  not  God  Him- 
self affirm  it.  Oh  ! sublime  religion,  how  great 
are  the  purity  and  perfection  thou  teachest! 

What  shame,  then,  and  what  confusion  will 
overwhelm  the  sinner  when  all  his  impurities, 
all  his  excesses,  all  his  iniquities,  hidden  in  the 
secret  recesses  of  his  heart,  will  be  exposed,  in 
all  their  enormity,  to  the  eyes  of  the  world! 
AYhose  conscience  is  so  clear  that  he  does  not 
blush,  does  not  tremble,  at  this  thought  ? If 
men  find  it  so  difficult  to  make  known  their 
sins  in  the  secrecy  of  confession ; if  many 
prefer  to  groan  under  the  weight  of  their  ini- 
quities rather  than  declare  them  to  God’s  min- 
ister, how  will  they  bear  to  see  them  revealed 
before  the  universe  ? In  their  shame  and  con- 
fusion “ they  shall  say  to  the  mountains:  Cover 
us  ; and  to  the  hills:  Fall  upon  us.”  * 

Consider  also  the  terror  of  the  sinner  when 
this  terrible  sentence  resounds  in  his  ear:  “ De- 
part from  me,  ye  cursed,  into  everlasting  fire 
which  was  prepared  for  the  devil  and  his  an- 
gels.” f How  will  the  reprobate  bear  these  ter- 
rible words  ? “ Seeing,”  says  holy  Job,  “ that 

we  have  heard  scarcely  a little  drop  of  His 
word,  who  will  be  able  to  behold  the  thunder 
of  His  greatness  ? ” % When  this  dread  sen- 
tence will  have  gone  forth,  the  earth  will  open 

* Osee  x.  8.  + St.  Matt.  xxv.  41.  $ Job  xxvi.  14. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


and  swallow  in  its  fiery  depths  all  those  whose 
lives  have  been  spent  in  the  pursuit  of  sinful 
pleasures.  St.  John,  in  the  Apocalypse,  thus 
describes  this  awful  moment:  “1  saw  another 
Angel  come  down  from  heaven,  having  great 
power  ; and  the  earth  was  enlightened  with  his 
glory.  And  he  cried  out  with  a strong  voice, 
saying:  Babylon  the  great  is  fallen,  is  fallen, 
and  is  become  the  habitation  of  devils,  and  the 
hold  of  every  unclean  spirit,  and  the  hold  of 
every  unclean  and  hateful  bird.”  * And  the 
holy  Evangelist  adds:  “And  a mighty  Angel 
took  up  a stone,  as  it  were  a great  miil-stone, 
and  cast  it  into  the  sea,  saying:  With  such 
violence  as  this  shall  Babylon  that  great  city  be 
thrown  down,  and  shall  be  found  no  more  at 
all.”f  In  like  manner  shall  the  wricked,  rep- 
resented by  Babylon,  be  cast  into  the  sea  of 
darkness  and  confusion.  What  tongue  can  ex- 
press the  torments  of  this  eternal  prison  ? The 
body  will  burn  with  a raging  fire  which  will 
never  be  extinguished  ; the  soul  will  be  tortured 
by  the  gnawing,  undying*  worm  of  conscience. 
The  darkness  will  resound  with  despairing  cries, 
blasphemies,  perpetual  weeping  and  gnashing 
of  teeth.  The  sinner,  in  his  impotent  rage, 
will  tear  his  flesh  and  curse  the  inexorable  jus- 
tice which  condemns  him  to  these  torments. 
He  will  curse  the  day  of  his  birth,  crying  out 
in  the  words  of  Job:  “Let  the  day  perish 
wherein  I was  born,  and  the  night  in  which  it 
was  said:  A man-child  is  conceived.  Let  that 
day  be  turned  into  darkness,  let  not  God  re- 

* Apoc.  xviii.  1,  2.  t Apoc.  xviii.  2L 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


91 


gard  it  from  above,  and  let  not  the  light  shine 
upon  it.  Let  darkness  and  the  shadow  of  death 
cover  it,  let  a mist  overspread  it,  and  let  it  be 
wrapped  up  in  bitterness.  Let  a darksome 
whirlwind  seize  upon  that  night,  let  it  not  be 
counted  in  the  days  of  the  year,  nor  numbered 
in  the  months.  Why  did  I not  die  in  the 
womb,  why  did  I not  perish  at  once  when  1 
came  out  of  the  womb  ? Why  was  I placed 
upon  the  knees  ? Why  was  I suckled  at  the 
breasts  ? ” * Unhappy  tongues  which  wd)  hence- 
forth utter  only  blasphemies  ! Unhappy  ears 
to  be  for  ever  filled  with  sighs  and  lamenta- 
tions ! Unhappy  eyes  which  will  never  gaze 
upon  anything  but  misery  ! Unhappy  flesh 
consumed  in  eternal  flames  ! Who  can  tell 
the  bitter  remorse  of  the  sinner  who  has  spent 
his  life  in  pursuit  of  new  pleasures  and  new 
amusements  ? Oh  ! how  fleeting  were  the  joys 
that  brought  such  a series  of  woes  ! 0 sense- 

less, unhappy  man  ! What  do  your  riches  now 
avail  you  ? The  seven  years  of  abundance  are 
past,  and  the  years  of  famine  are  upon  you. 
Your  wealth  has  been  consumed  in  the  twink- 
ling of  an  eye,  and  no  trace  of  it  remains. 
Your  glory  has  vanished  ; your  happiness  is 
swallowed  up  in  an  abyss  of  woe  ! So  extreme 
is  your  misery  that  a drop  of  water  is  denied 
you  to  allay  the  parching  thirst  with  which  you 
are  consumed.  Not  only  is  your  former  pros- 
perity of  no  avail,  but  rather  increases  the  tor- 
ture of  your  cruel  sufferings.  Thus  shall  the 
imprecation  of  Job  be  verified:  “May  worms 

* Job  iii.  3-6  and  11,  12. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


be  liis  sweetness,”  * which  St.  Gregory  thus  ex- 
plains : “ The  remembrance  of  their  past  plea- 
sures will  make  their  present  sufferings  more 
keen ; and  the  contrast  of  their  short-lived 
happiness  with  this  endless  misery  will  till 
them  with  rage  and  despair. ”f  They  will 
recognize  too  late  the  snares  of  the  evil  one, 
and  will  exclaim  in  the  words  of  the  Book 
of  Wisdom  : “ We  have  erred  from  the  way  of 
truth,  and  the  light  of  justice  hath  not  shone 
unto  us,  and  the  sun  of  understanding  hath 
not  risen  upon  us.  We  have  wearied  ourselves 
in  the  way  of  iniquity  and  destruction,  and 
have  walked  through  hard  ways,  but  the  way  of 
the  Lord  we  have  not  known/’  J The  contem- 
plation of  this  terrible  truth  cannot  but  rouse 
us  from  our  indifference  and  excite  us  to  practise 
virtue.  St.  John  Chrysostom  frequently  uses  it 
as  a means  to  exhort  his  hearers  to  virtue.  “ If 
you  would  labor  effectually/’  he  says,  “ to  make 
your  soul  the  temple  and  the  abode  of  the  Di- 
vinity, never  lose  sight  of  the  solemn  and  awful 
day  when  you  are  to  appear  before  the  tribunal 
of  Christ  to  render  an  account  of  all  your  works. 
Represent  to  yourself  the  glory  and  majesty  with 
which  Christ  will  come  to  judge  the  living  and 
the  dead.  Consider  the  irrevocable  sentence 
which  will  then  be  pronounced  upon  mankind, 
and  the  terrible  separation  which  will  follow  it. 
The  just  will  enter  into  the  possession  of  inef- 
fable joy  and  happiness;  the  wicked  will  be 
precipitated  into  exterior  darkness,  where  there 

t “ Moral.,”  xv.  26  and  xvi.  31. 

X Wisdom  v.  6,  7. 


* Job  xxiv.  20. 


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93 


will  be  perpetual  weeping  and  gnashing  of 
teeth.  They  will  be  gathered  like  weeds,  and 
cast  into  the  fire,  where  they  will  remain  for  all 
eternity.”  Ah  ! then,  before  it  is  too  late,  let 
us  save  ourselves  from  this  terrible  misfortune 
by  an  humble  and  sincere  confession  of  our 
sins — a favor  that  we  will  not  receive  on  that 
day,  for,  as  the  Psalmist  asks : “ Who  shall 
confess  to  Thee,  0 Lord!  in  hell  ?”* 

Another  thought  which  should  here  impress 
us  is  that  God  has  given  us  two  eyes,  two  ears, 
two  hands,  and  two  feet,  so  that  if  we  lose  one 
of  these  members  we  still  have  one  left.  But 
He  has  given  us  only  one  soul,  and  if  we  lose 
that  we  have  no  other  with  which  to  enjoy 
eternal  happiness.  Our  first  care,  therefore, 
should  be  to  save  our  soul,  which  is  to  share 
with  the  body  either  eternal  happiness  or  eter- 
nal woe.  It  will  avail  no  man  at  this  supreme 
tribunal  to  urge  : “I  was  dazzled  by  the  glitter 
of  wealth  ; I was  deceived  by  the  promises  of 
the  world.”  The  inexorable  Judge  will  answer  : 
“ I warned  you  against  these.  Lid  I not  say  : 
‘What  doth  it  profit  a man  if  he  gain  the 
whole  world  and  suffer  the  loss  of  his  own 
soul ’ ? ” f Nor  can  you  plead  that  the  devil 
tempted  you.  He  will  remind  you  that  Eve 
was  not  excused  when  she  urged  that  the  ser- 
pent had  tempted  her.  The  vision  of  Jeremias 
teaches  us  what  our  Lord’s  treatment  of  us  will 
be.  The  prophet  beheld  first  “ a rod  watching,” 
and  then  “a  caldron  boiling.”  This  is  a figure 
of  God’s  dealings  with  men.  First  He  warns 

* Ps.  vi.  6.  t St.  Matt.  xvi.  26. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


them,  and  if  they  do  not  heed  He  punishes  them  ; 
for  he  who  will  not  submit,  to  the  correction  of 
the  rod  will  be  cast  into  the  caldron  of  fire. 
As  you  read  of  God’s  punishments  in  Scripture, 
have  you  ever  observed  that  no  one  pleads  for 
those  whom  God  condemns  ? Father  does  not 
plead  for  son,  nor  brother  for  brother,  nor 
friend  for  friend.  Yes,  even  God’s  privileged 
servants,  Noe,  Daniel,  Job,  would  seek  in  vain 
to  alter  the  sentence  of  your  Judge.  At  the 
wedding-feast  no  voice  is  raised  to  intercede  for 
him  who  is  driven  from  the  banquet.  No  one 
pleads  for  the  slothful  servant  who  buried  the 
talent  entrusted  to  him  by  his  Master.  No  one 
makes  intercession  with  the  Bridegroom  for  the 
five  foolish  virgins  who,  after  despising  the  plea- 
sures of  the  flesh  and  stifling  in  their  hearts  the 
fire  of  concupiscence,  nay,  after  observing  the 
great  counsel  of  virginity,  neglected  the  precept 
of  humility  and  became  inflated  with  pride  on 
account  of  their  virginity.  You  know  the  his- 
tory of  the  avaricious  maji  of  the  Gospel,  and 
how  vainlyjie  pleaded  with  Abraham  for  a drop 
of  water  to  quench  his  burning  thirst. 

Why,  then,  will  we  not  help  one  another 
while  we  can  ? Why  will  we  not  render  glory 
to  God  before  the  sun  of  His  justice  has  set  for 
us  ? Better  let  our  tongues  be  parched  with 
privation  and  fasting  during  the  short  space  of 
this  life,  than  by  sinful  indulgence  expose  our- 
selves to  an  eternal  thirst.  If  we  can  hardly 
endure  a few  days  of  fever,  how  will  we  bear  the 
parching  thirst  and  burning  torments  of  that 
fire  which  will  never  die  ? If  we  are  so  appalled 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


95 


at  a sentence  of  death  pronounced  by  an  earthly 
judge,  which,  at  most,  deprives  us  of  but  forty 
or  fifty  years  of  life,  with  what  feelings  will  we 
hear  that  sentence  which  deprives  us  of  an  im- 
mortal life  and  condemns  us  to  an  eternity  of 
misery  ? With  what  horror  we  read  of  the  tor- 
tures inflicted  by  executioners  upon  malefac- 
tors ; yet  the  most  cruel  are  only  shadows  com- 
pared to  the  eternal  torments  of  the  life  to 
come.  The  former  end  with  this  life  ; but  in 
hell  the  worm  of  conscience  shall  never  die,  the 
executioner  shall  never  grow  weary,  the  fire 
shall  never  be  extinguished.  What,  then,  will 
be  the  feelings  of  the  wicked  when  suddenly 
transported  from  the  midst  of  earthly  happi- 
ness to  this  abyss  of  unspeakable  miseries  ? In 
vain  will  they  denounce  their  blindness  and  be- 
wail the  graces  they  refused.  What  can  the 
pilot  do  when  the  ship  is  lost?  Of  what  use 
is  the  physician  when  the  patient  is  dead  ? 
Whither  will  we  turn,  on  that  terrible  day, 
when  the  heavens  and  the  earth,  the  sun,  moon, 
and  stars,  when  all  creatures,  will  raise  their 
voices  against  us  to  testify  the  evil  we  have 
committed  ? But  even  were  these  silent,  our 
own  consciences  would  still  accuse  us. 

These  reflections,  dear  Christian,  we  have 
gathered  chiefly  from  the  writings  of  St.  John 
Chrysostom.  Do  they  not  prove  the  necessity 
of  living  with  the  fear  of  this  supreme  judg- 
ment constantly  before  us  ? This  fear  was 
never  absent  from  the  heart  of  St.  Ambrose, 
notwithstanding  the  vigilant  fervor  of  his  life. 
“ Woe  is  me,”  he  exclaims  in  his  commentary 


96 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


on  St.  Luke — “ woe  is  me  if  I weep  not  for  my 
sins  ! Woe  is  me,  0 Lord  ! if  I rise  not  in  the 
night  to  confess  and  proclaim  the  glory  of  Thy 
name  ! Woe  is  me  if  I do  not  dissipate  the 
errors  of  my  brethren  and  cause  the  light  of 
truth  to  burn  before  their  eyes,  for  the  axe  is 
now  laid  to  the  root  of  the  tree.”  Let  him, 
therefore,  who  is  in  a state  of  grace  bring  forth 
fruits  of  justice  and  salvation.  Let  him  who  is 
in  a state  of  sin  bring  forth  fruits  of  penance, 
for  the  time  approaches  when  the  Lord  will 
gather  His  fruit ; and  He  will  give  eternal  life 
to  those  who  have  labored  courageously  and 
profitably,  and  eternal  death  to  those  whose 
works  are  barren  and  useless. 


CHAPTER  IX. 

THE  NINTH  MOTIVE  FOR  PRACTISING  VIRTUE: 
THE  THOUGHT  OF  HEAVEN,  THE  THIRD  OF 
THE  FOUR  LAST  THINGS. 

A MOTIVE  no  less  powerful  than  those  we 
have  enumerated  is  the  thought  of  Hea- 
ven. This  is  the  reward  of  virtue,  and 
in  it  we  must  distinguish  two  things  : 
the  excellence  and  beauty  of  the  abode  pro- 
mised us,  which  is  no  other  than  the  empyreal 
heavens,  and  the  perfection  and  beauty  of  the 
Sovereign  King  Who  reigns  there  with  His  elect. 

But  though  no  tongue  can  fully  express  the 
splendor  and  riches  of  the  heavenly  kingdom. 


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97 


we  will  endeavor  to  describe  its  beauty  as  well  as 
our  limited  capacities  will  allow.  Let  us,  there- 
fore, first  consider  the  grand  end  for  which  it 
was  created,  which  will  enable  us  to  conceive 
some  idea  of  its  magnificence.  God  created  it 
to  manifest  His  glory.  Though  “ the  Lord  has 
made  all  things  for  Himself,”  * yet  this  is  par- 
ticularly true  of  Heaven,  for  it  is  there  that  His 
glory  and  power  are  most  resplendent.  We  are 
told  in  Scripture  that  Assuerus,  whose  king- 
dom included  one  hundred  and  twenty-seven 
provinces,  gave  a great  feast,  which  Tasted  one 
hundred  and  fourscore  days,  for  the  purpose  of 
manifesting  his  splendor  and  power.  So  the 
Sovereign  King  of  the  universe  is  pleased  to 
celebrate  a magnificent  feast,  which  continues, 
not  for  one  hundred  and  fourscore  days  only, 
but  for  all  eternity,  to  manifest  the  magni- 
ficence of  His  bounty,  His  power,  His  riches. 
His  goodness.  It  is  of  this  feast  that  the  pro- 
phet speaks  when  he  tells  us : “ The  Lord  of 
hosts  shall  make  unto  all  peoples  in  this  moun- 
tain a feast  of  fat  things,  a feast  of  wine,  of  fat 
things  full  of  marrow,  of  wine  purified  from 
the  lees.”  f By  this  we  are  to  understand  that 
He  will  lavish  upon  His  elect  all  the  riches  of 
the  heavenly  country  and  inebriate  them  with 
unutterable  delights.  Since  this  feast  is  pre- 
pared to  manifest  the  greatness  of  God’s  glory, 
which  is  infinite,  what  must  be  the  magnifi- 
cence of  this  feast  and  the  variety  and  splendor 
of  the  riches  He  displays  to  the  eyes  of  His 
elect  ? 


* Prov.  xvi.  4. 


t Isaias  xxv.  6. 


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The  Sinner's  Guide . 


We  will  better  appreciate  the  grandeur  of 
Heaven  if  we  consider  the  infinite  power  and 
boundless  riches  of  God  Himself.  His  power  is 
so  great  that  with  a single  word  He  created  this 
vast  universe,  and  with  a single  word  He  could 
again  reduce  it  to  its  original  nothingness.  A 
single  expression  of  His  will  would  suffice  to 
create  millions  of  worlds  as  beautiful  as  ours, 
and  to  destroy  them  in  one  instant.  Moreover, 
His  power  is  exercised  without  effort  or  exertion  ; 
it  costs  Him  no  more  to  create  the  most  sublime 
seraphim  than  to  create  the  smallest  insect. 
With  Him  to  will  is  to  accomplish.  Therefore, 
if  the  power  of  the  King  who  calls  us  to  His 
kingdom  be  so  great ; if  such  be  the  glory  of 
His  holy  Name  ; if  His  desire  to  manifest  and 
communicate  this  glory  be  so  great,  what  must 
be  the  splendor  of  the  abode  where  He  wills  to 
display  in  its  fulness  His  divine  magnificence  ? 

Nothing  can  be  wanting  to  its  perfection,  for 
its  Author  is  the  Source  of  all  riches,  all  power, 
and  all  wisdom.  What  must  be  the  beauty  of 
that  creation  in  the  formation  of  which  are 
combined  the  almighty  power  of  the  Father, 
the  infinite  wisdom  of  the  Son,  the  inexhaustible 
goodness  of  the  Holy  Spirit  ? 

Another  consideration  no  less  striking  is  that 
God  has  prepared  this  magnificence  not  only 
for  His  glory,  but  for  the  glory  of  His  elect. 
“Whosoever  shall  glorify  Me,  him  will  I 
glorify.”*  “ Thou  Hast  subjected  all  things 
under  his  feet,”  cries  out  the  Psalmist  ;f  and 
this  we  see  verified  in  the  most  striking  manner 

* 1 Kings  ii.  30.  t Ps.  viii.  8. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


99 


among  the  Saints.  Witness  Josue,  whose  word 
arrests  the  sun  in  his  course,  thus  showing  us, 
as  the  Scripture  says,  “ God  obeying  the  voice 
of  man.”  * Consider  the  prophet  Isaias  bidding 
King  Ezechias  choose  whether  he  will  have  the 
sun  go  forward  or  backward  in  his  course,  for  it 
was  in  the  power  of  God’s  servant  to  cause 
either. f Behold  Elias  closing  the  heavens,  so 
that  there  was  no  rain  but  at  his  will  and 
prayer.  And  not  only  during  life  but  even  after 
death  God  continues  to  honor  the  mortal  remains 
of  His  elect ; for  do  we  not  read  in  Scripture  that 
a dead  body  which  was  thrown  by  highwaymen 
into  the  tomb  of  Eliseus  was  brought  to  life  by 
contact  with  the  bones  of  the  prophet  ? J Did 
not  God  also  honor  in  a marvellous  manner  the 
body  of  St.  Clement  ? On  the  day  that  this 
generous  defender  of  the  faith  suffered,  the  sea 
was  opened  for  a distance  of  three  miles  to  allow 
the  people  to  pass  to  the  place  of  martyrdom  to 
venerate  the  sacred  remains.  Is  it  not  from  a 
like  motive  that  the  Church  has  instituted  a 
feast  in  honor  of  St.  Peter’s  chains,  to  show  us 
how  God  wills  to  honor  the  bodies  of  His  ser- 
vants, since  we  are  to  reverence  their  very  chains? 
A still  more  marvellous  proof  of  this  was  the 
power  of  healing  the  sick  communicated  to  the 
shadow  of  the  same  Apostle.  Oh  ! admirable 
goodness  ! God  confers  upon  His  Apostle  a 
power  which  He  Himself  did  not  exercise.  Of 
St.  Peter  alone  is  this  related.  But  if  God  be 
I pleased  thus  to  honor  the  Saints  on  earth,  though 
but  a place  of  toil  and  labor,  who  can  tell  the 

* Joeue  x.  14.  1 4 Kings  xx.  9.  $4  Kings  xiii.  21. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


glory  which  He  has  reserved  for  them  in  His 
kingdom,  where  He  wills  to  honor  them,  and 
through  them  to  glorify  Himself  ? 

The  Holy  Scriptures  teach  us  also  with  what 
liberality  God  rewards  the  services  we  render 
Him.  We  are  told  that  when  Abraham  wTas 
about  to  sacrifice  his  son  in  obedience  to  God’s 
command,  an  angel  of  the  Lord  appeared  to  him 
and  said  : “ By  My  own  self  have  I sworn,  saith 
the  Lord:  because  thou  hast  done  this  thing,  and 
hast  not  spared  thy  only-begotten  son  for  My 
sake,  I will  bless  thee,  and  I will  multiply  thy 
seed  as  the  stars  of  heaven  and  as  the  sand  that 
is  by  the  sea-shore  ; thy  seed  shall  possess  the 
gates  of  their  enemies  ; and  in  thy  seed  shall  all 
the  nations  of  the  earth  be  blessed,  because  thou 
hast  obeyed  My  voice.”*  Was  not  this  a reward 
befitting  such  a Master  ? God  is  sovereign  in 
His  rewards  as  well  as  in  His  punishments. 
We  read  also  that  David,  reflecting  one  night 
that  while  he  dwelt  in  a house  of  cedar  the  Ark 
of  the  Covenant  was  kept  in  a poor  tent,  resolved 
to  build  it  a more  fitting  habitation  ; and  the 
next  day  the  Lord  sent  the  prophet  Nathan  to 
promise  in  His  name  the  following  magnificent 
reward  : “Because  thou  hast  thought  of  build- 
ing Me  a house,  I swear  to  thee  that  I will 
build  one  for  thee  and  thy  posterity  which  shall 
have  no  end,  nor  will  I ever  remove  My  mercies 
from  it.”f  We  see  how  faithfully  His  promise 
was  fulfilled,  for  the  kingdom  of  Israel  was 
governed  by  the  princes  of  the  house  of  David 
until  the  coming  of  the  Messias,  Who  from  that 

* Gen.  xxii.  16,  17,  18.  + 2 Kings  vii. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


101 


time  has  reigned,  and  shall  reign  for  all  eternity. 
Heaven,  then,  is  that  superabundant  reward 
which  the  faithful  will  receive  for  their  good 
works.  It  is  the  manifestation  of  the  Divine 
munificence,  and  of  its  greatness  and  glory  we 
ought  to  have  a lively  appreciation.  Another 
consideration  which  will  help  us  to  form  some 
idea  of  the  eternal  beatitude  promised  us  is  the 
price  which  God,  Who  is  so  liberal,  required  for 
it.  After  we  had  forfeited  Heaven  by  sin,  God, 
Who  is  so  rich  and  magnificent  in  His  rewards, 
would  restore  it  to  us  only  at  the  price  of  the 
Blood  of  His  Divine  Son.  The  death  of  Christ, 
therefore,  gave  us  life  ; His  sorrows  won  for  us 
eternal  joy  ; and,  that  we  might  enter  into  the 
ranks  of  the  celestial  choirs,  He  bore  the  ignominy 
of  crucifixion  between  two  thieves.  Who,  then, 
can  sufficiently  value  that  happiness  to  obtain 
which  God  shed  the  last  drop  of  His  Blood,  was 
bound  with  ignominious  fetters,  overwhelmed 
with  outrages,  bruised  with  blows,  and  nailed  to 
a cross  ? But  besides  all  these  God  asks  on  our 
part  all  that  can  be  required  of  man.  He  tells 
us  that  we  must  take  up  our  cross  and  follow 
Him  ; that  if  our  right  eye  offend  us  we  must 
pluck  it  out;  that  we  must  renounce  father  and 
mother,  and  every  creature  that  is  an  obstacle  to 
the  Divine  will.  And  after  we  have  faithfully 
complied  with  His  commands  the  Sovereign  Re- 
munerator  still  tells  us  that  the  enjovment  of 
Heaven  is  a gratuitous  gift.  “Iam  Alpha  and 
Omega,  the  Beginning  and  the  End,”  He  says  by 
the  mouth  of  St.  John  ; * “ to  him  that  thirsteth 

*Apoc.  xxi.  6. 


102 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


I will  give  of  the  fountain  of  the  water  of  life 
freely.”  Since  God  so  liberally  bestows  His 
gifts  upon  the  sinner  as  well  as  the  just  in  this 
life,  what  must  be  the  inexhaustible  riches  re- 
served for  the  just  in  the  life  to  come  ? If  He 
be  so  bountiful  in  His  gratuitous  gifts,  how 
munificent  will  He  be  in  His  rewards  ? 

It  may  further  help  us  to  conceive  a faint 
image  of  this  eternal  glory  to  consider  the 
nobility  and  grandeur  of  the  empyreal  Heaven, 
our  future  country.  It  is  called  in  Scripture 
the  land  of  the  living,  in  contrast,  doubtless,  to 
our  sad  country,  which  may  truly  be  called  the 
land  of  the  dying.  But  if,  in  this  land  of  death 
inhabited  by  mortal  beings,  so  much  beauty  and 
perfection  are  found,  what  must  be  the  splendor 
and  magnificence  of  that  heavenly  country 
whose  inhabitants  will  live  for  ever  ? Cast  your 
eyes  over  the  world  and  behold  the  wonders 
and  beauties  with  which  it  is  filled.  Observe 
the  immensity  of  the  blue  vault  of  heaven  ; the 
dazzling  splendor  of  the  sun  ; the  soft  radiance 
of  the  moon  and  stars  ; the  verdant  heauty  of 
the  earth,  with  its  treasures  of  precious  metals 
and  brilliant  gems  ; the  rich  plumage  of  the 
birds  ; the  grandeur  of  the  mountains  ; the  smil- 
ing beauty  of  the  valleys;  the  limpid  freshness 
of  the  streams  ; the  majesty  of  the  great  rivers  ; 
the  vastness  of  the  sea,  with  all  the  wonders 
it  contains  ; the  beauty  of  the  deep  lakes,  those 
eyes  of  the  earth,  reflecting  on  their  jdacid  bosoms 
the  starry  splendor  of  the  heavens  ; the  flower- 
enamelled  fields,  which  seem  a counterpart  of 
the  starlit  firmament  above  them.  If  in  this 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


103 


land  of  exile  we  behold  so  much  beauty  to  en- 
rapture our  soul,  what  must  be  the  spectacle 
which  awaits  us  in  the  haven  of  eternal  rest  ? 

Compare  the  inhabitants  of  the  two  countries, 
if  you  would  have  a still  stronger  proof  of  the 
superiority  and  infinite  grandeur  of  the  heavenly 
country.  This  earth  is  the  land  of  death,  Heaven 
is  the  land  of  immortality.  Ours  is  the  habita- 
tion of  sinners,  Heaven  the  habitation  of  the 
just.  Ours  is  a place  of  penance,  an  arena  of 
combat;  Heaven  is  the  land  of  triumph,  the 
throne  of  the  victor,  “the  city  of  God.” 
“Glorious  things  are  said  of  thee,  0 City  of 
God  ! ” * Immeasurable  is  thy  greatness,  incom- 
parable the  beauty  of  thy  structure.  Infinite 
thy  price;  most  noble  thy  inhabitants,  sublime 
thy  employments  ; most  rich  art  thou  in  all 
good,  and  no  evil  can  penetrate  thy  sacred  walls. 
Great  is  thy  Author,  high  the  end  for  which 
thou  wast  created,  and  most  noble  the  blessed 
citizens  who  dwell  in  thee. 

All  that  we  have  hitherto  said  relates  only  to 
the  accidental  glory  of  the  Saints.  They  possess 
another  glory  incomparably  superior,  which 
theologians  call  the  essential  glory.  This  is  the 
vision  and  possession  of  God  Himself.  For  St. 
Augustine  tells  us  that  the  reward  of  virtue 
will  be  God  Himself,  the  Author  of  all  virtue, 
Whom  we  will  untiringly  contemplate,  love,  and 
praise  for  all  eternity.” f What  reward  could 
be  greater  than  this  ? It  is  not  Heaven,  or 
earth,  or  any  created  perfection,  but  God,  the 
Source  of  all  beauty  and  all  perfection.  The 

* Ps.  lxxxvi.  3.  t “ De  Civitate  Dei,”  xxii.  30. 


104 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


blessed  inhabitants  of  Heaven  will  enjoy  in  Him 
all  good,  each  according  to  the  degree  of  glory 
he  has  merited.  For  since  God  is  the  Author 
of  every  good  that  we  behold  in  creatures,  it 
follows  that  He  possesses  in  Himself  all  perfec- 
tion, all  goodness,  in  an  infinite  degree.  He 
possesses  them,  because  otherwise  He  could  not 
have  bestoAved  them  on  creatures.  He  possesses 
them  in  an  infinite  degree,  because  as  His  Being 
is  infinite,  so  also  are  His  attributes  and  His 
perfections.  God,  then,  will  be  our  sovereign 
beatitude  and  the  fulfilment  of  all  our  desires. 
In  Him  we  will  find  the  perfections  of  all 
creatures  exalted  and  transfigured.  In  Him  we 
will  enjoy  the  beauty  of  all  the  seasons — the 
balmy  freshness  of  spring,  the  rich  beauty  of 
summer,  the  luxurious  abundance  of  autumn, 
and  the  calm  repose  of  winter.  In  a word,  all 
that  can  delight  the  senses  and  enrapture  the 
soul  will  be  ours  in  Heaven.  “ In  God,”  says 
St.  Bernard,  “ our  understandings  will  be  filled 
with  the  plenitude  of  light ; our  wills  with  an 
abundance  of  peace  ; and  our  memories  with  the 
joys  of  eternity.  In  this  abode  of  all  perfec- 
tion the  wisdom  of  Solomon  will  appear  but 
ignorance  ; the  beauty  of  Absalom  deformity  ; 
the  strength  of  Samson  weakness  ; the  longest 
life  of  man  a brief  mortality ; the  wealth  of 
kings  but  indigence.”  Why,  then,  0 man  !' 
will  you  seek  straws  in  Egypt  ? Why  will  you 
drink  troubled  waters  from  broken  cisterns, 
when  inexhaustible  treasures,  and  the  fountain 
of  living  water  springing  up  into  eternal  life, 
await  you  in  Heaven  ? Why  will  you  seek  vain 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


105 


and  sensual  satisfactions  from  creatures,  when 
unalterable  happiness  may  be  yours  ? If  your 
heart  crave  joy,  raise  it  to  the  contemplation  of 
that  Good  which  contains  in  Itself  all  joys.  If 
you  are  in  love  with  this  created  life,  consider 
the  eternal  life  which  awaits  you  above.  If  the 
beauty  of  creatures  attract  you,  live  that  you 
may  one  day  possess  the  Source  of  all  beauty,  in 
Whom  are  life,  and  strength,  and  glory,  and  im- 
mortality, and  the  fulness  of  all  our  desires.  If 
you  find  happiness  in  friendship  and  the  society  of 
generous  hearts,  consider  the  noble  beings  with 
whom  yon  will  be  united  by  the  tenderest  ties 
for  all  eternity.  If  your  ambition  seek  wealth 
and  honors,  make  the  treasures  and  the  glory  of 
heaven  the  end  of  all  your  efforts.  Finally,  if 
you  desire  freedom  from  all  evil  and  rest  from 
all  labor,  in  Heaven  alone  can  your  desires  be 
gratified. 

God  in  the  Old  Law  ordained  that  children 
should  be  circumcised  on  the  eighth  day  after 
birth,  teaching  us  thereby  that,  on  the  day  of  the 
general  resurrection  which  will  follow  the  short 
space  of  this  life,  He  will  cut  off  the  miseries 
and  sufferings  of  those  who  for  love  of  Him 
have  circumcised  their  hearts  by  cutting  off  all 
the  sinful  affections  and  pleasures  of  this 
world.  Now,  who  can  conceive  a happier  exis- 
tence than  this,  which  is  exempt  from  every 
sorrow  and  every  infirmity?  “In  Heaven/*’ 
says  St.  Augustine,  “ we  shall  cease  to  feel  the 
trials  of  want  or  sickness.  Pride  or  envy  will 
never  enter  there.  The  necessity  of  eating  or 
drinking  will  there  be  unknown.  The  desire 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


for  honors  will  never  disturb  our  calm  repose. 
Death  will  no  longer  reach  body  or  soul,  united 
as  they  will  be  with  the  Source  of  all  life, 
which  they  will  enjoy  throughout  a blessed  im- 
mortality.” * Consider,  moreover,  the  glory 
and  happiness  of  living  in  the  company  of  the 
angels,  contemplating  the  beauty  of  these  sub- 
lime spirits  ; admiring  the  resplendent  virtue 
of  the  Saints,  the  rewards  with  which  the  obe- 
dience of  the  patriarchs  and  the  hope  of  the 
prophets  have  been  crowned  ; the  brilliant  dia- 
dems of  the  martyrs,  dyed  with  their  own 
blood,  and  the  dazzling  whiteness  of  the  robes 
with  which  the  virgins  are  adorned.  But 
what  tongue  can  describe  the  beauty  and 
the  majesty  of  the  Sovereign  Monarch  who 
reigns  in  their  midst?  “If  by  daily  endur- 
ing fresh  torments,”  says  St.  Augustine, f 
“and  even  suffering  for  a time  the  pains  of 
hell,  we  were  permitted  for  one  day  to  con- 
template this  King  in  all  His  glory  and 
enjoy  the  society  of  His  elect,  surely  it  would 
be  a happiness  cheaply  purchased.”  What, 
then,  can  we  say  of  the  happiness  of  pos- 
sessing these  joys  for  all  eternity  ? Conceive, 
if  you  can,  the  ravishing  harmony  of  the 
celestial  voices  chanting  the  words  heard  by 
St.  John:  “Benediction,  and  glory,  and  wis- 
dom, and  thanksgiving,  and  honor,  and  pow- 
er, and  strength  to  our  God  for  ever  and 
ever.  Amen.”J  If  the  harmony  of  these 
voices  will  cause  us  such  happiness,  how 
we  will  rejoice  at  the  unity  that  we  will 

* “ Soliloq.,”  xxxv.  t “ Manual.,”  xv.  X Apoc.  vii.  12. 


The  Smner’s  Guide. 


107 


behold  between  soul  and  body  ! And  this 
concord  will  be  still  more  marked  between  an- 
gels and  men,  whilst  between  God  and  men  the 
union  will  be  so  close  that  we  can  form  no  ade- 
quate idea  of  it.  What  glory,  then,  will  it  be 
for  the  creature  to  find  himself  seated  at  the 
banquet  of  the  King  of  kings,  partaking  of  His 
table — that  is,  of  His  honor  and  His  glory  ! 
Oh  ! enduring  peace  of  heaven  ; oh  ! unalter- 
able joy  ; oh  ! entrancing  harmonies ; oh  ! tor- 
rents of  celestial  delight,  why  are  ye  not  ever 
present  to  the  minds  of  those  who  labor  and 
combat  on  earth  ? 

If  such  be  the  happiness  which  faith  tells  us 
is  the  reward  of  the  just,  how  great  is  your 
blindness  if  you  are  not  moved  thereby  to 
practise  virtue ! 


CHAPTER  X. 

THE  TENTH  MOTIVE  FOR  PRACTISING  VIRTUE  : 
THE  THOUGHT  OF  HELL,  THE  FOURTH  OF 
THE  FOUR  LAST  THINGS. 

THE  least  part  of  the  happiness  we  have  en- 
deavored to  portray  should  be  sufficient 
to  inflame  our  hearts  with  a love  of  vir- 
tue. Nevertheless  wre  shall  also  consider 
the  terrible  alternative  of  misery  reserved  for 
the  reprobate.  The  sinner  cannot  comfort 
himself  by  saying : “ After  all,  .the  only  re- 
suit of  my  depraved  life  will  be  that  I shall 


108 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


never  see  God.  Farther  than  this  I shall  have 
neither  reward  nor  punishment.”  Oh  ! no  ; 
we  are  all  destined  to  one  or  the  other — 
either  to  reign  eternally  with  God  in  Heaven  or 
to  burn  for  ever  with  the  devils  in  hell. 

This  happiness  and  misery,  either  of  which 
must  inevitably  be  our  portion,  are  represented 
by  the  two  baskets  of  figs  which  Jeremias  saw 
in  the  vision,  one  containing  “ very  good  figs, 
like  the  figs  of  the  first  season,  and  the  other 
basket  very  bad  figs,  which  could  not  be  eat- 
en.”* God  willed  thus  to  represent  to  His 
prophet  the  two  classes  of  souls,  one  of  which 
forms  the  object  of  His  mercy,  and  the  other 
of  His  justice.  The  happiness  of  the  first  is 
unequalled,  and  the  misery  of  the  second  is  also 
incomparable  ; for  the  just  enjoy  the  perpetual 
vision  of  God,  which  is  the  greatest  of  all  bless- 
ings, while  the  wicked  are  for  ever  deprived  of 
this  vision,  and  thereby  suffer  the  greatest  of  all 
evils. 

If  men  who  sin  so  rashly  would  weigh  this 
truth  they  would  know  the  terrible  burden  that 
they  lay  upon  themselves.  Those  who  earn 
their  living  by  carrying  burdens  first  estimate 
the  weight  they  are  to  bear,  that  they  may 
know  whether  it  is  beyond  their  strength. 
Why,  then,  0 rash  man  ! will  you  for  a passing 
pleasure  so  lightly  assume  the  terrible  burden 
of  sin  without  considering  your  strength  to 
bear  it  ? Will  you  not  reflect  on  the  heavy 
weight  you  thus  condemn  yourself  to  bear  for 
all  eternity  ? To  help  you  do  this  I shall  offer 

* Jeremias  xxiv.  1,  2, 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


109 


you  a few  considerations  which  will  enable  you 
to  realize  in  some  measure  the  greatness  of  the 
punishment  reserved  for  sin. 

Let  us  first  reflect  on  the  almighty  power  of 
God,  Whose  justice  will  chastise  the  sinner. 
God’s  greatness  is  apparent  in  all  His  works. 
He  is  God,  not  only  in  Heaven,  earth,  and  sea, 
but  in  hell  and  in  every  other  place.  He  is 
God  in  His  wrath  and  in  the  justice  with  which 
He  avenges  the  outrages  offered  to  His  divine 
majesty.  Therefore,  He  Himself  exclaims  by 
the  mouth  of  His  prophet:  “Will  you  not, 
then,  fear  Me,  and  will  you  not  repent  at  My 
presence  ? I have  set  the  sand  a bound  for  the 
sea,  an  everlasting  ordinance,  which  it  shall  not 
pass  over  ; and  the  waves  thereof  shall  toss 
themselves,  and  shall  not  prevail ; they  shall 
swell,  and  shall  not  pass  over  it.”  * In  other 
words,  will  you  not  fear  the  almighty  power  of 
that  Arm  which  controls  the  elements,  which 
sustains  the  universe,  and  which  no  power  can 
resist  ? If  the  works  of  His  mercy  excite  us  to 
love  and  praise  Him,  we  have  no  less  reason  to 
fear  the  greatness  of  His  justice.  Hence  the 
prophet  Jeremias,  though  innocent,  and  even 
sanctified  in  his  mother’s  womb,  was  deeply 
penetrated  with  this  salutary  fear.  “Who,” he 
cries  out,  “shall  not  fear  Thee,  0 King  of  na- 
tions ?”f  And  again  : “I  sat  alone,  because 
Thou  hast  filled  me  with  threats.”  J Doubtless 
the  prophet  knew  that  these  threats  were  not 
uttered  against  him  ; yet  they  filled  him  with 
terror.  The  pillars  of  heaven,  we  are  told, 

* Jerem.  v.  22.  + x.  7.  * xv.  17. 


110 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


tremble  before  the  majesty  of  God,  and  the 
powers  and  principalities  prostrate  themselves 
in  awe  before  His  throne.  If  these  pure  spirits, 
confirmed  in  bliss,  and  in  no  manner  doubting 
of  their  happiness,  but  only  through  admira- 
tion of  the  Divine  Perfections,  tremble  before 
His  power,  what  should  be  the  terror  of  the  sin- 
ner who  has  made  himself  the  object  of  His 
wrath  ? It  is  the  power  of  our  Sovereign  Judge 
which  is  most  appalling  in  the  punishment  of 
sin.  Speaking  of  God’s  punishments,  St.  John 
says  : “ Babylon’s  plagues  shall  come  in  one 
day,  death,  and  mourning,  and  famine,  and  she 
shall  be  burnt  with  fire,  because  God  is  strong, 
Who  shall  judge  her.”*  The  great  Apostle, 
filled  with  awe  of  this  power,  exclaims  : “It,  is 
a terrible  thing  to  fall  into  the  hands  of  the  liv- 
ing God.”  f We  have  not  such  reason  to  fear 
the  hands  of  men,  from  whom  we  can  escape, 
and  who  at  least  cannot  thrust  the  soul  into 
hell.  Hence  our  Saviour  tells  His  disciples  : 
“And  fear  ye  not  them  that  kill  the  body  and 
are  not  able  to  kill  the  soul.  But  rather  fear 
Him  who  can  destroy  both  soul  and  body  into 
hell.”  J The  author  of  Ecclesiasticus,  impressed 
with  the  might  of  this  power,  thus  warns  us  : 
“Unless  we  do  penance  we  shall  fall  into  the 
hands  of  the  Lord,  and  not  into  the  hands  of 
men.Ӥ  This  united  testimony  proves,  as  we 
have  said,  that  as  God  is  great  in  His  mercy  and 
rewards,  so  will  He  be  great  in  His  justice  and 
punishments. 


* Apoc.  xviii.  8. 
t St.  Matt.  x.  28. 


+ Heh.  x.  31. 

§ Ecclus.  ii.  22. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Ill 


This  truth  is  still  more  apparent  in  the  ter- 
rible chastisements  inflicted  by  God  which  are 
related  in  Scripture.  Witness  the  punishment 
of  Dathan  and  Abiron,  who,  witli  all  their  ac- 
complices, were  swallowed  alive  into  the  earth 
and  thrust  into  the  depths  of  hell  for  rebelling 
against  their  superiors.*  Who  can  read  un- 
moved the  threats  against  transgressors  recorded 
in  Deuteronomy  ? Among  others  equally  ter- 
rible, here  is  one  which  the  sacred  writer  puts 
in  the  mouth  of  God:  “ Thou  shalt  serve  thy 
enemy,  whom  the  Lord  will  send  upon  thee,  in 
hunger,  and  thirst,  and  nakedness,  and  in  want 
of  all  things  ; and  he  shall  put  an  iron  yoke 
upon  thy  neck  till  he  consume  thee.  And  thou 
shalt  eat  the  fruit  of  thy  womb,  and  the  flesh  of 
thy  sons  and  of  thy  daughters,  which  the  Lord 
thy  God  shall  give  thee,  in  the  distress  and  ex- 
tremity wherewith  thy  enemy  shall  oppress 
thee.”  f We  can  scarcely  imagine  punishments 
more  dreadful  than  these  ; yet  they,  as  well  as- 
all  the  sufferings  of  this  life,  are  but  a shadow 
when  compared  to  the  terrible  torments  of  the  life 
to  come.  If  His  justice  be  so  rigorous  in  this 
world,  though  always  tempered  by  His  love, 
what  will  it  be  in  eternity  when  exercised  with- 
I out  mercy  ? For  the  sinner  who  has  despised 
God’s  mercies  in  this  life  will  feel  only  the  ef- 
fects of  His  justice  in  the  life  to  come. 

Another  consideration  which  may  help  us  to 
appreciate  the  rigor  of  these  sufferings  is  the 
greatness  of  the  mercy  which  the  sinner  has  de- 
I spised.  What  is  there  more  astonishing  than 

* Num.  xii.  + Deuter.  xxviii.  48,  53. 


112 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


that  mercy  which  caused  God  to  clothe  Him- 
self in  human  flesh,  to  endure  innumerable  suf- 
ferings and  humiliations,  to  take  upon  Himself 
the  transgressions  of  the  world,  and  for  these 
transgressions  to  expire  as  a malefactor  on  an 
infamous  gibbet  ? God  is  infinite  in  all  His  at- 
tributes ; and,  therefore,  the  justice  with  which 
He  will  punish  man  will  equal  the  boundless 
mercy  with  which  He  redeemed  him. 

When  God  first  came  upon  earth  there  was 
nothing  in  us  to  excite  His  mercy ; but  at  His 
second  coming  our  every  sin  will  be  an  addi- 
tional reason  for  Him  to  exercise  His  justice. 
Judge,  therefore,  how  terrible  it  will  be.  66  At 
His  second  coming,”  says  St.  Bernard,  “God 
will  be  as  inflexible  and  as  rigorous  in  punish- 
ing as  at  His  first  coming  He  was  patient  and 
merciful  in  forgiving.  There  is  now  no  sinner 
living  who  is  cut  off  from  His  reconciliation  ; 
but  in  the  day  of  His  justice  none  will  be  re- 
ceived.” These  words  of  St.  Bernard  are  con- 
firmed by  the  royal  prophet,  wrho  tells  us  : “ Our 
God  is  the  God  of  salvation  ; and  of  the  Lord,  of 
the  Lord  are  the  issues  from  death.  But  God 
shall  break  the  heads  of  His  enemies ; the  hairy 
crown  of  them  that  walk  on  in  their  sins.”* 
Behold,  then,  how  great  is  God’s  mercy  to 
those  who  are  converted  to  Him,  and  how  great 
is  the  rigor  with  which  He  punishes  obdurate 
sinners. 

The  same  truth  is  manifested  by  God’s  pa- 
tience wfith  the  world,  and  with  the  vices  and 
disorders  of  every  sinner  in  particular.  How 

* Ps.  lxvii.  21,  22. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


113 


many  there  are  who,  from  the  age  of  reason  to 
the  end  of  their  lives,  continually  offend  Him 
and  despise  His  law,  regardless  of  His  promises, 
His  benefits,  His  warnings,  or  His  menaces  ! 
Yet  God  does  not  cut  them  off,  but  continues 
to  bear  with  them,  unceasingly  exhorting  them 
to  repentance.  But  when  the  term  of  His  pa- 
tience will  come,  and  His  wrath,  which  lias  been 
accumulating  in  the  bosom  of  His  justice,  will 
burst  its  bounds,  with  what  terrible  violence  it 
will  be  poured  out  upon  them!  “ Knowest  thou 
not,”  says  the  Apostle,  “that  the  benignity  of 
God  leadeth  thee  to  penance  ? But  according  to 
thy  hardness  and  impenitent  heart,  thou  trea- 
surest  up  to  thyself  wrath  against  the  day  of 
wrath  and  revelation  of  the  just  judgment  of 
God,  Who  will  render  to  every  man  according  to 
his  works.”  * 

The  meaning  of  these  words  is  not  difficult. 
A treasure  of  ivrath  is  a terrible  figure.  Just 
as  the  miser  adds  coin  to  coin,  riches  to  riches, 
so  the  wrath  of  God  is  daily  and  even  hourly 
increased  by  the  transgressions  of  the  sinner. 
Were  a man  to  let  no  day  or  hour  pass  without 
adding  to  his  material  fortune,  consider  what 
an  immense  amount  he  would  have  accumulated 
at  the  end  of  fifty  or  sixty  years.  Alas  ! then, 
for  thee,  unhappy  sinner,  for  there  is  hardly  an 
hour  in  which  thou  dost  not  add  to  the  trea- 
sures of  God’s  wrath  which  thy  sins  are  accumu- 
lating against  thee.  Thy  immodest  glances, 
the  evil  desires  of  thy  corrupt  heart,  and  thy 
scandalous  words  and  blasphemies  would  alone 

*Rom.  ii.  4,  5,  6. 


114 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


suffice  to  fill  a world.  If  to  these  are  added  the 
many  other  grievous  crimes  of  which  thou  hast 
been  guilty,  consider  the  treasure  of  vengeance 
and  wrath  which  a long  life  of  sin  will  heap  up 
against  thee. 

If  to  the  considerations  already  given  we  add 
a brief  reflection  on  the  gratitude  of  men,  it  will 
help  us  realize,  in  some  measure,  the  severity 
of  the  punishment  inflicted  upon  the  sinner. 
Contemplate  God’s  goodness  to  men  ; the  bene- 
fits He  has  heaped  upon  them  ; the  means  He 
lias  given  them  to  practise  virtue  ; the  iniquities 
He  has  forgiven  them  ; the  evils  from  which  He 
has  delivered  them.  Consider,  moreover,  the 
ingratitude  of  men  for  all  these  blessings  ; their 
many  treasons  and  rebellions  against  God  ; their 
contempt  of  His  laws,  which  they  trample  under 
foot  for  a paltry  interest,  and  often  through 
malice  or  mere  caprice.  What,  then,  can  they 
expect  who  have  thus  outraged  God’s  mercy, 
who,  in  the  words  of  the  Apostle,  have  “trod- 
den under  foot  the  Son  of  God,  and  have  es- 
teemed the  blood  of  the  testament  unclean  by 
which  they  were  sanctified”  ?*  God  is  a just 
Judge,  and  their  punishment  wTill  be  propor- 
tioned to  their  crimes.  Remember  the  majesty 
of  Him  Who  has  been  offended,  and  consider 
the  sufferings  of  that  body  and  soul  which  must 
offer  satisfaction  for  such  an  outrage.  If  the 
Blood  of  Christ  were  needed  to  make  reparation 
for  man’s  offences,  the  dignity  of  the  Victim 
supplying  what  was  lacking  in  the  severity  of 
His  sufferings,  how  terrible  will  be  those  suffer- 

* Heb.  x.  29. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


115 


mgs  which  sinners  must  endure,  and  which 
must  supply  by  their  rigor  what  is  wanting  in 
the  merit  of  the  victim  ! 

If  the  thought  of  the  Judge  impress  us  so 
deeply,  what  ought  to  be  our  feelings  when  we 
consider  who  it  is  that  will  be  the  executioner  ! 
The  executioner  will  be  the  devil.  What,  then, 
may  we  not  expect  from  the  malice  of  such  an 
enemy  ? If  we  would  form  some  idea  of  his 
cruelty,  consider  his  treatment  of  the  holy  man 
Job,  whom  God  delivered  into  his  hands.  He 
destroyed  his  flocks  ; laid  waste  his  lands  ; over- 
threw his  houses  ; carried  ofl  his  children  by 
death  ; made  his  body  a mass  of  ulcers,  and  left 
him  no  other  refuge  but  a dunghill  and  a pot- 
sherd to  scrape  his  sores.  In  addition  to  his 
suffering  he  left  him  a scolding  wife  and  cruel 
friends,  who  reviled  him  with  words  which  tor- 
tured him  more  keenly  than  the  worms  which 
preyed  upon  his  flesh.  Thus  was  Job  afflicted 
by  Satan,  but  it  is  impossible  to  describe  in 
human  language  his  treatment  of  our  Blessed 
Saviour  during  the  night  in  which  He  was  the 
Victim  of  the  powers  of  darkness. 

Seeing,  then,  how  cruel  are  the  devil  and  his 
angels,  will  you  not  tremble  with  horror  at  the 
thought  of  being  delivered  into  their  hands  ? 
They  will  have  power  to  execute  upon  you 
the  most  terrible  inventions  of  their  malice,  not 
for  a day,  or  a night,  or  a year  only,  but  for  all 
eternity.  Read  the  appalling  picture  of  these 
evil  spirits  given  by  St.  John  : “ I saw  a star,” 
says  the  Apostle,  “fall  from  heaven  upon  the 
earth,  aud  there  was  given  to  him  the  key  of 


116 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


the  bottomless  pit.  And  he  opened  the  bottom- 
less pit ; and  the  smoke  of  the  pit  arose  as  the 
smoke  of  a great  furnace ; and  the  sun  and 
the  air  were  darkened  with  the  smoke  of  the 
pit.  And  from  the  smoke  of  the  pit  there  came 
out  locusts  upon  the  earth.  And  power  was 
given  to  them,  as  the  scorpions  of  the  earth, 
have  power.  And  it  was  commanded  them 
that  they  should  not  hurt  the  grass  of  the  earth, 
nor  any  green  thing,  nor  any  tree,  but  only  the 
men  who  have  not  the  seal  of  God  on  their  fore- 
heads. And  it  was  given  to  them  that  they 
should  not  kill  them,  but  that  they  should  tor- 
ment them  five  months  : and  their  torment  was 
as  the  torment  of  a scorpion  when  he  striketh  a 
man.  And  in  those  days  men  shall  seek  death, 
and  shall  not  find  it ; and  they  shall  desire  to 
die,  and  death  shall  fly  from  them.  And  the 
shapes  of  the  locusts  were  like  unto  horses  pre- 
pared unto  battle  ; and  on  their  heads  were  as  it 
were  crowns  like  gold ; and  their  faces  were  as 
the  faces  of  men.  And  they  had  hair  as  the 
hair  of  women,  and  their  teeth  were  as  the  teeth 
of  lions  ; and  they  had  breast-plates  as  breast- 
plates of  iron,  and  the  noise  of  their  wings  was 
as  the  sound  of  chariots  of  many  horses  running 
to  battle.  And  they  had  tails  like  to  scorpions, 
and  there  were  stings  in  their  tails.”*  Does 
not  the  Holy  Ghost  design  to  teach  us  by  these 
terrible  figures  the  fearful  effects  of  God’s  jus- 
tice, the  awful  instruments  of  His  wrath,  and 
the  appalling  tortures  of  the  reprobate  ? Does 
He  not  wish  that  the  fear  of  these  evils  should 

* Apoc.  ix.  1-10, 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


117 


save  us  from  the  lot  of  the  sinner  ? What  is 
that  star  which  fell  from  heaven,  and  received 
the  key  of  the  bottomless  pit,  but  that  bright 
angel  who  was  precipitated  from  Heaven  to  reign 
for  ever  in  hell  ? Do  not  the  locusts,  so  well 
equipped  for  battle,  represent  the  ministers  of 
Satan  ? And  are  not  the  green  things  which 
they  were  commanded  To  spare,  the  just  who 
flourish  under  the  dew  of  God’s  grace  and 
bring  forth  fruits  of  eternal  life  ? Who  are 
they  who  have  not  the  seal  of  God  upon  their 
foreheads  but  men  who  have  not  His  Spirit, 
which  is  the  mark  and  seal  of  His  faithful  ser- 
vants ? It  is  against  these  unhappy  souls  that 
the  ministers  of  God’s  vengeance  will  work. 
Yes,  they  will  be  tormented  in  this  life  and  in 
the  next  by  the  devils  whom  they  willed  to 
serve,  just  as  the  Egyptians  were  tormented  by 
the  various  living  creatures  which  they  had 
adored.  What  terrible  pictures  are  given  us  in 
Scripture  of  the  monsters  of  this  eternal  abyss  ! 
What  can  be  conceived  more  horrible  than  the 
behemoth,  “that  setfeth  up  his  tail  like  a cedar, 
whose  bones  are  like  pipes  of  brass,  who  drink- 
eth  up  rivers  and  devoureth  mountains  ” ? * 

The  considerations  already  given  are  certainly 
sufficient  to  inspire  us  with  a horror  for  sin  ; but 
to  strengthen  this  salutary  fear  let  us  reflect 
upon  the  duration  of  these  terrible  torments. 
Try  to  realize  what  a comfort  it  would  be  to  the 
damned  if  at  the  end  of  millions  of  years  they 
could  look  forward  to  any  term  or  alleviation  of 
their  sufferings.  But  no  ; their  sufferings  shall 

* Job  xl. 


118 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


be  eternal ; they  shall  continue  as  long  as  God 
shall  be  God.  If  one  of  these  unhappy  souls, 
says  a Doctor  of  the  Church,  were  to  shed, 
one  tear  every  thousand  years,  and  if  these  tears 
accumulated  to  such  a flood  as  to  inundate  the 
world,  he  would  still  be  as  far  as  ever  from  the 
end  of  his  sufferings.  Eternity  would  only  be 
at  its  beginning.  Is  there  anything  worthy  of 
our  fears  but  this  terrible  fate  ? Truly,  were 
the  pain  of  hell  no  more  than  the  prick  of  a pin, 
yet  if  it  must  continue  for  ever  there  is  no  suf- 
fering in  this  world  which  man  should  not  en- 
dure to  avoid  it. 

Oh!  that  this  eternity,  this  terrible  foe  ever, 
were  deeply  graven  in  our  hearts  ! We  are  told 
that  a worldly  man,  giving  himself  to  serious 
reflection  upon  eternity,  made  use  of  this  simple 
reasoning  : There  is  no  sensible  man  who  would 
accept  the  empire  of  the  world  at  the  expense 
of  thirty  or  forty  years  spent  upon  a bed,  even 
were  it  a bed  of  roses.  How  great,  then,  is  the 
folly  of  him  who  for  much  smaller  interests  in- 
curs the  risk  of  being  condemned  to  lie  upon  a bed 
of  fire  for  all  eternity!  This  thought  wrought 
such  a change  in  his  life  that  he  became  a great 
saint  and  most  worthy  prelate  of  the  Church. 
What  consideration  will  be  given  to  this  by  the 
soft  and  effeminate,  who  complain  so  much  if 
the  buzzing  of  a mosquito  disturbs  their  night’s 
repose  ? What  will  they  say  when  they  will 
find  themselves  stretched  upon  a bed  of  fire, 
surrounded  by  sulphurous  flames,  not  for  one 
short  summer  nigh't,  but  for  all  eternity  ? To 
such  the  Prophet  addresses  himself  when  he 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


119 


says  : “ Which  of  you  can  dwell  with  devouring 
fire  ? Which  of  you  shall  dwell  with  everlast- 
ing burnings  ? ” * 0 senseless  man  ! will  you 

continue  to  allow  yourself  to  be  deceived  by  the 
arch-enemy  of  your  soul?  How  can  you  be  so 
diligent  in  providing  for  your  temporal  welfare, 
and  yet  be  so  careless  of  your  eternal  interests? 

If  you  were  penetrated  with  these  reflections, 
what  obstacle  could  turn  you  from  the  practice 
of  virtue  ? Difficult  as  it  may  appear,  is  there 
any  sacrifice  you  would  refuse  to  escape  these 
eternal  torments  ? Were  God  to  allow  a man 
to  choose  whether  he  would  be  tormented  while 
on  earth  with  a gout  or  toothache  which  would 
never  allow  him  a moment’s  repose,  or  embrace 
the  life  of  a Carthusian  or  a Carmelite,  do  you 
think  there  is  any  one  who  would  not,  purely 
from  a motive  of  self-love,  choose  the  state  of  a 
religious  rather  than  endure  this  continual  suf- 
fering ? Yet  there  is  no  pain  in  this  life  which 
can  be  compared  to  the  pains  of  hell,  either  in  in- 
tensity or  in  duration.  Why,  then,  will  we  not 
accept  the  labor  God  asks  of  us,  which  is  so 
much  less  than  the  austerities  of  a Carthusian  or 
a Carmelite  ? Why  will  we  refuse  the  restraint 
of  His  law,  which  will  save  us  from  such  suffer- 
ing ? What  will  add  most  keenly  to  the  suffer- 
ings of  the  damned  will  be  the  knowledge  that 
by  a short  penance  and  self-denial  upon  earth 
they  might  have  averted  these  terrible  pains 
which  they  must  fruitlessly  endure  for  all 
eternity.  We  see  a figure  of  this  awful  truth 
in  the  furnace  which  Nabuchodonosor  caused  to 

* Isaias  xxxiii.  14. 


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be  built  in  Babylon,*  the  flames  of  which  mount- 
ed forty-nine  cubits,  but  could  never  reach 
fifty,  the  number  of  the  year  of  jubilee,  or  gen- 
eral pardon.  In  like  manner  the  eternal  flame 
of  this  Babylon,  though  it  burns  so  fiercely,  fill- 
ing its  unhappy  victims  with  pain  and  anguish, 
will  never  reach  the  point  of  mercy,  will  never 
obtain  for  them  the  grace  of  pardon  of  the 
heavenly  jubilee.  Oh  ! unprofitable*  pains  ! 
Oh  ! fruitless  tears  ! Oh  ! rigorous  and  hope- 
less penance!  If  borne  in  this  life,  the  smallest 
portion  of  them  might  have  saved  the  sinner 
from  everlasting  misery.  Mindful  of  all  these, 
send  forth  your  tears  and  sighs,  remembering 
the  prophet  who  “lamented  and  howled,  who 
went  stripped  and  naked,  making  a wailing  like 
the  dragons,  and  a mourning  like  the  ostriches, 
because  her  wound  was  desperate.”  f 

If  men  were  ignorant  of  these  truths,  if 
they  had  not  received  them  as  infallible,  their 
negligence  and  indifference  would  not  be  so  as- 
tonishing. But  have  we  not  reason  to  wonder, 
since  men  have  received  them  on  the  word  of 
Him  who  has  said:  “ Heaven  and  earth  shall 
pass  away,  but  My  word  shall  not  pass  away  ” ? J 
Yet  behold  in  what  forgetfulness  of  their  duty 
and  their  God  they  continue  to  live. 

Tell  me,  blind  soul,  what  pleasure  you  find 
in  the  riches  and  honors  of  this  world  which  is 
a compensation  for  the  eternal  fire  of  hell. 
“If  you  possessed  the  wisdom  of  Solomon,” 
says  St.  Jerome,  “the  beauty  of  Absalom,  the 
strength  of  Samson,  the  longevity  of  Henoch, 

* Dan.  iii.  + Micheas  i.  8,  9.  X St.  Luke  xxi.  33. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


121 


the  riches  of  Croesus,  the  power  of  Caesar,  what 
will  all  these  avail  you  at  death,  if  your  body 
becomes  the  prey  of  worms,  and  your  soul,  like 
the  rich  glutton’s,  the  sport  of  demons  for  all 
eternity  ? ” 


9 CHAPTER  XI. 

THE  ELEVENTH  MOTIVE  FOR  PRACTISING  VIR- 
TUE : THE  INESTIMABLE  ADVANTAGES  PRO- 
MISED IT  EVEN  IN  THIS  LIFE. 

WITH  such  powerful  reasons  for  embracing 
virtue,  I know  not  what  excuse  men 
can  make  for  refusing  to  practise  it. 
That  pagans,  who  are  ignorant  of  its 
value,  do  not  prize  it  is  not  astonishing.  A pea- 
sant digging  in  the  earth  and  finding  a precious 
stone  Avill  probably  throw  it  away,  because  he 
does  not  know  its  worth.  But  that  Christians, 
who  have  been  taught  the  value  and  beauty  of 
virtue,  continue  to  live  in  forgetfulness  of  God 
and  wedded  to  the  things  of  this  world,  as  if 
there  were  no  such  thing  as  death  or  judgment, 
\or  heaven  or  hell,  is  a continual  subject  of  sor- 
rowful wonder.  Whence  this  blindness,  whence 
this  folly  ? 

It  has  several  causes,  the  principal  of  which 
is  the  mistaken  opinion  of  the  generality  of  men, 
who  believe  that  no  advantages  are  to  be  reaped 
from  virtue  in  this  life,  that  its  rewards  are  re- 
served for  the  life  to  come.  Men  are  so  power- 


122 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


fully  moved  by  self-interest,  and  present  ob- 
jects make  such  an  impression  upon  them,  that 
they  think  very  little  of  future  rewards  and 
seek  only  their  immediate  satisfaction.  The 
same  was  true  even  in  the  days  of  the  prophets; 
for  when  Ezecliiel  made  any  promise  or  uttered 
any  threat  in  the  name  of  the  Lord,  people 
laughed  at  him  and  said  to  one  another:  “The 
vision  that  this  man  seeth  is  for  many  days  to 
come;  and  this  man  prophesieth  of  times  afar 
off.”*  In  like  manner  did  they  ridicule  the 
prophet  Isaias  : “ Command,  command  again, 
command,  command  again;  expect,  expect  again, 
expect,  expect  again.”  f Solomon  teaches  us  the 
same  when  he  says  : “ Because  sentence  is  not 
speedily  pronounced  against  the  evil,  the  chil- 
drenof  men  commit  evils  without  any  fear.  . . . 
And  because  all  things  equally  happen  to  the 
just  and  the  wicked,  to  him  that  offereth  vic- 
tims and  to  him  that  despiseth  sacrifices,  the 
hearts  of  the  children  of  men  are  filled  with 
evil,  and  with  contempt  while  they  live,  and 
afterwards  he  shall  be  brought  down  to  hell.”  J 
Yes,  because  the  wicked  seem  to  prosper  in 
the  world  they  conclude  that  they  are  safe, 
and  that  the  labor  of  virtue  is  all  in  vain. 
This  they  openly  confess  by  the  mouth  of  the 
prophet  Malachias,  saying  : “ He  laboreth  in 
vain  that  serveth  God  ; and  what  profit  is  it 
that  we  have  kept  His  ordinances,  and  that  we 
have  walked  sorrowful  before  the  Lord  of 
hosts  ? Wherefore  now  we  call  the  proud 

* Ezech.  xii.  27.  t Isaias  xxviii.  10. 

X Eccles.  viii.  11  and  ix.  2,  3. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


123 


people  happy,  for  they  that  work  wickedness 
are  built  up,  and  they  have  tempted  God  and 
are  preserved.”  * This  is  the  language  of  the 
reprobate,  and  is  the  most  powerful  motive 
which  impels  them  to  continue  in  sin;  for,  in  the 
words  of  St.  Ambrose,  “ they  find  it  too  difficult 
to  buy  hopes  at  the  cost  of  "dangers,  to  sacrifice 
present  pleasures  to  future  blessings.”  To  de- 
stroy this  serious  error  I know  nothing  better 
than  the  touching  words  of  our  Saviour  weep- 
ing over  Jerusalem:  “If  thou  also  hadst  known, 
and  that  in  this  thy  day,  the  things  that  are  for 
thy  peace  ; but  now  they  are  hidden  from  thy 
eyes.”  f Our  Divine  Lord  considered  the  ad- 
vantages which  this  people  had  received  from 
Him;  the  happiness  He  had  reserved  for  them; 
and  the  ingratitude  with  which  they  rejected 
Him  when  He  came  to  them  in  meekness  and 
humility.  For  this  they  were  to  lose  not  only 
the  treasures  and  graces  of  His  coming,  but 
even  their  temporal  power  and  freedom.  This 
it  was  which  caused  Him  to  shed  such  bitter 
tears  and  to  foretell  the  unhappy  fate  that  was 
in  store  for  His  people.  His  words  apply  with 
great  force  to  our  present  subject.  Consider 
the  inestimable  riches,  the  abundant  graces, 
which  accompany  virtue  ; yet  it  is  a stran- 
ger, a wanderer  on  earth.  Men  seem  to  be 
blind  to  these  divine  blessings.  Have  we  not, 
therefore,  reason  to  weep  and  to  cry  out : 0 
man , if  thou  also  hadst  Tcnown  ? If  thou  hadst 
known  the  peace,  the  light,  the  strength,  the 
sweetness,  and  the  riches  of  virtue,  thou  wouldst 

* Malach.  iii.  14,  15.  t St.  Luke  xix.  42. 


124 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


have  opened  thy  heart  to  it,  thou  wouldst  have 
spared  no  sacrifice  to  win  it.  But  these  bless- 
ings are  hidden  from  worldlings,  who  regard 
only  the  humble  exterior  of  virtue,  and,  having 
never  experienced  its  unutterable  sweetness, 
they  conclude  that  it  contains  nothing  but  what 
is  sad  and  repulsive.  They  know  not  that 
Christian  philosophy  is  like  its  Divine  Founder, 
who,  though  exteriorly  the  humblest  of  men, 
was  nevertheless  God  and  sovereign  Lord  of 
all  things.  Hence  the  Apostle  tells  the  faithful 
that  they  are  dead  to  the  world,  that  “ their 
life  is  hid  with  Christ  in  God.”  * Just  as  the 
glory  of  Christ  was  hidden  by  the  veil  of  His 
humanity,  so  should  the  glory  of  His  faithful 
followers  be  concealed  in  this  world.  We  read 
that  the  ancients  made  certain  images,  called 
Silenes,  which  were  rough  and  coarse  exteriorly, 
but  most  curiously  and  ingeniously  wrought 
within.  The  ignorant  stopped  at  the  exterior 
and  saw  nothing  to  prize,  but  those  who  un- 
derstood their  construction  looked  within  and 
were  captivated  by  the  beauty  they  there  beheld. 
Such  have  been  the  lives  of  the  Prophets,  the 
Apostles,  and  all  true  Christians,  for  such  was 
the  life  of  their  Divine  Model. 

If  you  still  tell  me  that  the  path  of  virtue 
is  rugged,  that  its  duties  are  difficult,  I beg 
you  to  consider  the  abundant  and  powerful 
aids  which  God  gives  you.  Such  are  the  in- 
fused virtues,  interior  graces,  the  gifts  of  the 
Holy  Ghost,  the  sacraments  of  the  New  Law, 
with  other  divine  favors,  which  are  to  us  like 

* Coloss.  iii.  3 


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125 


sails  to  a ship,  or  wings  to  a bird,  to  help  us  on 
our  voyage  to  eternity.  Reflect  upon  the  very 
name  and  nature  of  virtue.  It  is  a noble  habit, 
which,  like  all  other  habits,  ought  to  make  us 
act  with  facility  and  pleasure.  Remember  also 
that  Christ  has  promised  His  followers  not  only 
the  riches  of  glory,  but  those  of  grace:  the 
former  for  the  life  to  come,  the  latter  for  this 
present  life.  “ The  Lord/’  says  the  prophet, 
“ will  give  grace  and  glory.”  * The  treasures  of 
grace  are  for  this  life,  and  the  riches  of  glory  are 
for  the  next.  Consider  further  with  what  care 
God  provides  for  the  necessities  of  all  creatures. 
How  generously  He  supplies  even  the  smallest 
creatures  with  all  that  is  necessary  to  the  end 
for  which  they  were  created  ! Is  it  not  unrea- 
sonable, then,  to  think  that  He  will  disregard 
the  necessities  of  man,  the  most  important  of 
which  is  virtue,  and  leave  him  a prey  to  his 
weak  will,  his  darkened  understanding,  and  his 
corrupt  nature  ? The  world  and  the  prince  of 
darkness  are  most  assiduous  in  procuring  vain 
pleasures  and  joys  for  those  who  serve  them. 
Canyon  doubt,  then,  that  God  will  grant  refresh" 
ment,  light,  and  peace  to  His  faithful  in  the 
midst  of  the  labors  performed  for  Him  ? What 
did  God  wish  to  teach  us  by  the  words  of  the 
prophet  ? “ You  shall  return,  and  shall  see  the 
difference  between  the  just  and  the  wicked,  and 
between  him  that  serveth  God  and  him  that 
serveth  Him  not.”f  Was  it  not  that  if  we 
would  be  converted  we  would  see  and  know, 
even  in  this  life,  the  rewards  of  the  good,  “the 

* Ps.  lxxxiii.  12.  t Malach.  iii.  18. 


126 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


difference  between  the  just  and  the  wicked”? 
We  would  behold  the  contrast  between  the 
true  riches  of  the  jnst  and  the  poverty  of  the 
wicked ; between  the  joy  of  the  former  and  the 
misery  of  the  latter ; between  the  peace  of  the 
one  and  the  conflicts  of  the  other  ; between  the 
light  with  which  the  good  are  surrounded,  and 
the  darkness  by  which  the  wicked  are  enveloped. 
Experience  will  show  you  the  real  value  of 
virtue  and  how  far  it  exceeds  your  former  anti- 
cipations. Upon  another  occasion  God  re] died 
in  like  manner  to  men  who,  having  been  deceived 
by  appearances,  ridiculed  the  virtuous,  saying  : 
“ Let  the  Lord  be  glorified,  and  we  shall  see  in 
your  joy.”  * After  depicting  the  torments  which 
God’s  justice  prepares  for  the  wicked,  Isaias 
thus  describes  the  happiness  reserved  for  the 
just:  “Rejoice  with  Jerusalem,  and  be  glad 
with  her,  all  ye  that  love  her.  Rejoice  for  joy 
with  her,  all  you  that  mourn  for  her.  That  you 
may  suck,  and  be  filled  with  the  breasts  of  her 
consolation  ; that  you  may  milk  out,  and  flow 
with  delights,  from  the  abundance  of  her  glory. 
For  thus  saith  the  Lord  : Behold  I will  bring 
upon  her  as  it  were  a river  of  peace,  and  as  an 
overflowing  torrent,  the  glory  of  the  gentiles, 
which  you  shall  suck  ; you  shall  be  carried  at 
the  breasts,  and  upon  the  knees  they  shall  caress 
you.  As  one  whom  the  mother  caresseth,  so 
will  I comfort  you,  and  you  shall  be  comforted 
in  Jerusalem.  And  you  shall  see,  and  your 
heart  shall  rejoice,  and  your  bones  shall  flourish 
like  an  herb,  and  the  hand  of  the  Lord  shall  be 

* Isaias  lxvi.  5. 


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127 


known  to  His  servants.”  * Yes,  “the  hand  of 
the  Lord  shall  be  known  to  His  servants  ” ; for 
as  men  by  the  beauties  and  wonders  of  the 
universe  judge  of  the  infinite  beauty  and  om- 
nipotence of  God,  so  shall  the  just  recognize  the 
infinite  love  and  goodness  of  God  in  the  incom- 
parable joys  and  favors  which  He  will  bestow 
upon  them. 

As  a farther  proof  of  what  has  been  said  I 
will  add  the  remarkable  words  uttered  by  our 
Saviour  when  St.  Peter  asked  what  reward  they 
would  have  for  leaving  all  things  for  love  of 
Him  : “ Amen  I say  unto  you,  there  is  no  man 
who  hath  left  house,  or  brethren,  or  sisters,  or 
father,  or  mother,  or  children,  or  lands  for  my 
sake  and  for  the  Gospel,  who  shall  not  receive 
a hundred  times  as  much  now  in  this  time,  and 
in  the  world  to  come  life  everlasting  ” f Mark 
how  explicitly  the  rewards  of  this  life  and  the 
next  are  distinguished.  Nor  can  we  doubt 
these  words,  for  they  are  those  of  Him  who  has 
said:  “Heaven  and  earth  shall  pass  away,  but 
My  words  shall  not  pass  a#ay.” 

And  what  is  this  hundred-fold  which  the  just 
receive  in  this  life  ? Honors,  riches,  titles,  and 
dignities  are  not  their  portion  ; the  greater 
number  of  the  just  lead  hidden,  obscure  lives, 
forgotten  by  the  world  and  overwhelmed  with 
infirmities.  How,  then,  does  God  fulfil  His 
infallible  promise  to  give  them  a hundred-fold 
even  in  this  life  ? Ah  ! it  is  not  with  the  per- 
ishable goods  of  this  world  that  He  will  reward 
His  servants.  Joy  and  peace  and  happiness  are 

* Isaias  lxvi.  10-15.  t St.  Mark  x.  29,  30. 


128 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


the  spiritual  treasures  with  which  the  liberal- 
ity of  our  God  enriches  those  who  love  Him. 
These  are  the  blessings  which  the  world  does  not 
know,  and  which  the  wealth  of  the  world  can 
never  buy.  And  how  fitting  this  is  ; for  as  man 
does  not  live  by  bread  alone,  so  the  craving  of 
his  soul  cannot  be  satisfied  by  anything  short  of 
spiritual  blessings.  Study  the  lives  of  the 
Saints,  and  you  will  see  that  they  have  received 
the  hundred-fold  promised  in  this  life.  In  ex- 
change for  the  false  riches  which  they  forsook, 
they  received  true  riches  which  they  can  bear 
with  them  to  eternity.  For  the  turmoil  and 
conflicts  of  the  world  they  received  that  “ peace 
which  surpasseth  all  understanding.”  Their 
tears,  their  fasting,  and  their  prayers  brought 
them  more  joy  and  consolation  than  they  could 
ever  hope  to  obtain  from  the  fleeting  pleasures 
of  this  life.  If,  then,  you  have  forsaken  an 
earthly  father  for  love  of  God,  your  Heavenly 
Father  will  receive  you  as  His  child,  and  make 
you  His  heir  to  an  everlasting  inheritance.  If 
you  have  despised  eafthly  pleasures  for  love  of 
Him,  He  will  fill  you  with  the  incomparable 
sweetness  of  heavenly  consolations.  The  eyes  of 
your  soul  will  be  opened,  and  you  will  love  and 
cherish  what  formerly  affrighted  you.  What 
was  formerly  bitter  will  become  sweet , and,  en- 
lightened by  grace,  you  will  see  the  emptiness 
of  worldly  joys,  and  you  will  learn  to  relish  the 
delights  of  God’s  love.  Thus  does  He  manifest 
His  merciful  goodness  ; thus  does  He  fulfil  His 
promise  to  us. 

The  annals  of  the  Cistercian  Order  mention  an 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


129 


incident  which,  in  connection  with  our  subject, 
is  worth  recording  : Arnulph,  a man  of  promi- 
nence in  Flanders,  who  was  strongly  wedded  to 
the  things  of  this  world,  was  converted  by  the 
preaching  of  St.  Bernard.  He  was  so  touched 
by  grace  that  he  became  a Cistercian  monk. 
On  a certain  occasion  he  fell  dangerously  sick 
and  remained  unconscious  for  some  time.  The 
monks,  believing  him  to  be  dying,  administered 
Extreme  Unction.  But  soon  after  his  con- 
sciousness returned,  and  he  broke  out  into  trans- 
ports of  praise,  frequently  repeating  : “ How 
true  are  Thy  words,  0 merciful  Jesus !”  To 
the  questions  of  his  brethren  he  continued  to 
repeat : “How  true  are  Thy  words,  0 merciful 
Jesus  ! ” Some  of  them  remarked  that  pain  had 
made  him  delirious.  “ No,  my  brethren,”  he  ex- 
claimed ; “I  am  conscious,  I am  in  full  pos- 
session of  my  senses,  and  again  I assure  you  that 
all  the  words  Jesus  has  uttered  are  true.”  “ But 
we  do  not  doubt  this,”  said  the  monks  ; “why 
do  you  repeat  it  so  often  ? ” “ God  tells  us  in 

the  Gospel,”  he  answered,  V that  he  who  forsakes 
earthly  affections  for  love  of  Him  shall  receive 
a hundred-fold  in  this  world,  and  in  the  world 
to  come  life  everlasting,  and  I have  already  ex- 
perienced the  truth  of  His  promise.  Great  as 
my  present  pains  are,  I would  not  exchange 
them,  with  the  anticipation  of  heavenly  sweet- 
ness which  they  have  procured  me,  for  a hun- 
dred or  a thousand-fold  of  the  pleasures  I for- 
sook in  the  world.  If  a guilty  sinner  like  me 
receive  such  sweetness  and  consolation  in  the 
midst  of  his  pains,  what  must  be  the  joys  of 


130 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


perfect  souls  ? ” The  monks  marvelled  to  hear  a 
man  of  no  learning  speak  so  wisely*  but  recog- 
nized in  his  words  the  inspiration  of  the  Holy 
Spirit.  Therefore,  we  must  conclude  that  [the 
just*  though  deprived  of  earthly  blessings,  enjoy 
the  rewards  promised  to  virtue  in  this  life.  To 
convince  you  more  fully  of  this  we  shall  treat 
in  the  following  chapters  of  the  twelve  privileges 
attached  to  virtue  in  this  world.  Taken  as  a 
whole,  they  are  the  twelfth  motive  for  practise 
ing  virtue.  We  shall  treat  of  each*  however, 
in  a separate  chapter.  Though  some  experience 
in  the  practice  of  virtue  is  necessary  to  compre- 
hend what  we  are  about  to  say,  yet  the  want  of 
it  may  be  supplied  by  our  faith  in  the  Holy 
Scriptures*  which  firmly  establish  the  doctrine 
we  are  teaching. 


CHAPTER  XII. 

THE  FIRST  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  ! GOD’S  FA- 
THERLY CARE  OF  THE  JUST. 

THE  greatest  privilege  attached  to  virtue  is 
the  care  which  God  exercises  over  those 
who  serve  Him.  From  this  as  from  a 
fountain-head  flow  all  other  favors. 
Though  God’s  providence  is  extended  to  all  His 
creatures*  yet  He  manifests  a special  care  for 
His  faithful  servants.  To  appreciate  the  great- 
ness and  goodness  of  God’s  providence  we  must 
have  experienced  it*  or  attentively  studied  the 


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131 


Holy  Scriptures,  which,  from  the  beginning  to 
the  end,  treat  either  directly  or  indirectly  of 
God’s  care  for  His  creatures.  Throughout  the 
Bible  we  behold  two  characteristic  features  : on 
the  one  hand  God  commanding  man  to  obey 
Him,  and  on  the  other  promising  him  in  re- 
turn for  this  obedience  inestimable  rewards. 
To  those  who  disobey  He  threatens  the  sever- 
est torments.  This  doctrine  is  so  distributed 
through  the  Bible  that  all  the  moral  books  con- 
tain God’s  commands  and  promises  and  threats, 
while  the  historical  books  record  the  fulfilment 
of  the  same,  manifesting  how  differently  God 
deals  with  the  just  and  with  the  wicked.  All 
that  God, commands  us  is  to  love  and  obey  Him, 
and  in  return  He  offers  us  inestimable  blessings 
for  this  life  and  the  next.  The  most  important 
of  these  blessings  is  the  fatherly  love  and  care 
with  which  He  watches  over  His  children. 
His  solicitude  for  them  exceeds  that  of  any 
earthly  father.  What  man  ever  reserved  for  his 
children  an  inheritance  comparable  to  that  of 
eternal  glory  ? What  man  ever  suffered  for 
his  children  the  torments  endured  by  our  Sa- 
viour ? At  no  less  a price  than  the  last  drop 
of  His  Blood  He  purchased  the  Kingdom  of 
Heaven.  What  can  equal  His  constant  care  for 
us  ? We  are  ever  present  to  His  mind,  and  He 
constantly  helps  and  supports  us  in  all  the 
labors  of  life.  “ Thou  hast  upheld  me  by 
reason  of  my  innocence,”  says  David,  “ and  hast 
established  me  in  Thy  sight  for  ever.”  * And 
again:  “The  eyes  of  the  Lord  are  upon  the 

* Ps.  xl.  13. 


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just,  and  His  ears  unto  their  prayers.  But  the 
countenance  of  the  Lord  is  against  them  that  do 
evil  things,  to  cut  off  the  remembrance  of  them 
from  the  earth.  ” * 

As  the  greatest  reward  of  the  Christian  in 
this  life  is  God’s  fatherly  care,  and  as  our  joy 
and  confidence  must  increase  in  proportion  to 
our  faith  in  this  providence,  we  shall  add  here  a 
few  passages  from  Scripture  in  proof  of  this 
doctrine.  In  Ecclesiasticus  we  read  : “ The 
eyes  of  the  Lord  are  upon  them  that  fear  Him  ; 
He  is  their  powerful  protector,  and  strong  stay, 
a defence  from  the  heat,  and  a cover  from  the 
sun  at  noon;  a preservation  from  stumbling, 
and  a help  from  falling  ; He  raiseth  up  the 
soul,  and  enlighteneth  the  eyes,  and  giveth 
health,  life,  and  blessing.’’  f “ With  the  Lord,” 
says  the  prophet,  “ shall  the  steps  of  a man  be 
directed,  and  he  shall  like  well  his  way.  When 
he  shall  fall  he  shall  not  be  bruised,  for  the 
Lord  puttetli  His  hand  under  him.”  J And 
again : “ Many  are  the  afflictions  of  the  just,  but 
out  of  them  all  will  the  Lord  deliver  them. 
The  Lord  keepeth  all  their  bones  ; not  one  of 
them  shall  be  broken.”  § This  providence  is 
still  more  strongly  set  forth  in  the  Gospel,  where 
our  Saviour  affirms  that  not  “ a hair  of  the  just 
shall  perish.”  ||  Even  stronger  is  His  assurance 
expressed  by  the  mouth  of  His  prophet  : “He 
that  toucheth  you  toucheth  the  apple  of  My 
eye.”  T 

Besides  this  care  which  He  Himself  has  for  us, 

* Ps.  xxxiii.  16, 17.  t Ecclus.  xxxiv.  19,  20.  $ Ps.  xxxvi.  23,  24. 

§ Ps.  xxxiii.  20,  21.  ||  St.  Luke  xxi.  18.  Zach.  ii.  8. 


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133 


“ He  hath  given  His  Angels  charge  over  us,  to 
keep  us  in  all  our  ways.  In  their  hands  they 
shall  bear  us  up,  lest  we  dash  our  foot  against 
a stone.”  * Thus  the  mission  of  these  pure 
spirits  is  to  help  the  just,  who  are  their  younger 
brethren,  to  walk  in  the  way  of  piety.  Nor  does 
their  ministry  cease  at  death,  for  we  read  in  St. 
Luke  that  the  holy  beggar  Lazarus  was  carried 
by  Angels  into  Abraham’s  bosom,  f The  Royal 
Prophet  tells  us  that  “the  Angel  of  the  Lord 
shall  encamp  round  about  them  that  fear  Him, 
and  shall  deliver  them.”  J 

We  find  another  illustration  of  God’s  guar- 
dianship and  defence  of  the  just  in  the  Fourth 
Book  of  Kings,  § where  we  are  told  that  when 
the  servant  of  Eliseus  feared  for  his  master, 
against  whom  the  king  of  Syria  with  all  His 
army  advanced,  the  prophet  begged  the  Lord  to 
open  the  eyes  of  his  servant,  to  show  him  that 
there  were  as  many  for  Eliseus  as  there  were 
coming  against  him.  The  prophet’s  prayer  was 
heard,  and  the  servant  beheld  the  mountain  full 
of  horses  and  chariots  of  fire,  and  in  the  midst 
of  them  Eliseus.  Does  not  the  Holy  Spirit  will 
to  teach  us  by  these  symbols  the  care  with  which 
God  surrounds  the  just  ? 

This  protection  not  only  delivers  the  just 
from  evil  and  leads  them  to  good,  but  turns  to 
their  profit  the  sins  info  which  they  are  some- 
times permitted  to  fall.  For  after  a fall  they 
acquire  greater  prudence,  greater  humility,  and 
love  God  more  tenderly  for  pardoning  their  of- 


* Ps.  xc.  n,  12. 
X Ps.  xxxiii.  8. 


t St.  Luke  xvi.  22. 
§ Chap.  vi. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


fences  and  delivering  them  from  their  evils. 
Hence  the  Apostle  tells  us  : “ All  things  work 
together  unto  good  to  them  that  love  God.”  * 

And  this  protection  God  extends  to  the  chil- 
dren of  the  just  and  to  all  their  posterity,  as  He 
Himself  assures  us,  saying:  “ I am  the  Lord  thy 
God,  mighty,  jealous,  visiting  the  iniquity  of 
the  fathers  upon  the  children,  unto  the  third 
and  fourth  generation  of  them  that  hate  Me  ; 
and  showing  mercy  unto  thousands  to  them  that 
love  Me  and  keep  My  commandments.”  f His 
words  are  verified  in  His  treatment  of  the 
house  of  David,  for  whose  sake  He  would  not 
destroy  his  posterity,  though  they  several  times 
merited  it  by  their  crimes.  No  less  striking 
was  His  mercy  to  the  children  of  Abraham, 
for  whose  sake  He  repeatedly  pardoned  them. 
He  even  promised  that  Ismael,  Abraham’s  son, 
though  born  of  a bondwoman,  should  “ increase 
and  multiply  exceedingly,  and  grow  into  a great 
nation.”  J He  protected  even  the  holy  Patri- 
arch’s servant,  whom  He  guided  in  his  journey 
and  instructed  in  the  means  he  should  adopt  to 
procure  a wife  for  Isaac.  He  is  not  only  merci- 
ful to  servants  for  the  sake  of  a good  master, 
but  He  even  blesses  wicked  masters  because  of 
just  servants,  as  wre  see  in  the  history  of  Joseph, 
whose  master  God  visited  with  prosperity  be- 
cause of  the  virtuous  youth  who  abode  in  his 
house.  Who,. then,  would  not  be  devoted  to  so 
generous,  so  grateful  a Master,  Who  watches  so 
carefully  over  the  interest  of  His  servants  ? 

Numerous  are  the  titles  which  the  Holy 

*Kom.  viii.  28.  tExod.  xx.  5,  6.  $ Gen.  xvii.  20. 


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135 


Scriptures  use  to  express  God’s  providence. 
The  one  most  frequently  recurring  is  the  sweet 
name  of  Father,  which  we  find  not  only  in  the 
Gospel  but  also  throughout  the  Old  Testament. 
Thus  the  Psalmist  says  : “ As  a father  hath 
compassion  on  his  children,  so  hath  the  Lord 
compassion  on  them  that  fear  Him  ; for  He 
knoweth  our  frame,  He  remembereth  that  we 
are  dust.”  * 

But  because  the  love  of  a mother  is  deeper 
and  more  tender  than  that  of  a father,  God 
makes  use  of  it  to  express  His  care  and  solici- 
tude for  the  just.  “Can  a woman,”  He  says 
by  the  mouth  of  His  prophet,  “forget  her  in- 
fant, so  as  not  to  have  pity  on  the  son  of  her 
womb  ? And  if  she  should  forget,  yet  will  not 
1 forget  thee.  Behold,  I have  graven  thee  in 
My  hands ; thy  walls  are  always  before  My 
eyes.”f  What  sweeter  or  more  tender  assur- 
ances of  love  could  God  express  ? And  shall  we 
continue  blind  to  so  many  proofs  of  II is  tender- 
ness ? And  not  content  with  illustrating  His 
love  for  us  by  that  of  a mother,  He  compares 
His  watchfulness  to  that  of  the  eagle,  a creature 
noted  for  its  devotion  to  its  young,  saying  by 
Moses:  “As  the  eagle  enticing  her  young  to 
fly,  and  hovering  over  them,  He  spread  His 
wings,  and  hath  taken  him  and  carried  him  on 
His  shoulders.”};  Even  more  forcibly  did 
Moses  express  the  paternal  goodness  of  God 
when  he  told  the  Israelites  : “ The  Lord  thy 
God  hath  carried  thee,  as  a man  is  wront  to 
carry  his  little  son,  all  the  way  that  you  have 

*■  Ps.  cii.  13,  14.  t Isaias  xlix.  15,  16.  % Deut.  xxxii.  11. 


136 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


come,  until  you  came  to  this  place.5’*  As  our 
Father,  God  does  not  disdain  to  call  us  His 
children,  His  cherished  children,  as  the  prophet 
Jeremias  attests  when,  speaking  in  the  name  of 
God,  he  says:  “ Surely  Ephraim  is  an  honorable 
son  to  Me,  surely  he  is  a tender  child ; for 
since  I spoke  of  him  I will  still  remember  him. 
Therefore  are  my  bowels  troubled  for  him ; 
pitying  I will  pity  him.”  f Let  ns  ponder  these 
words,  which  are  uttered  by  God  Himself,  that 
they  may  inflame  our  hearts  and  move  us  to 
make  some  return  for  His  affectionate  tender- 
ness to  us. 

It  is  in  illustration  of  this  same  providence 
that  God  assumes  the  title  of  Shepherd.  “I 
am  the  Good  Shepherd,”  He  tells  us  ; “and  I 
know  Mine,  and  Mine  know'  Me.”  J How  dost 
Thou  know  them,  0 Lord  ? “As  the  Father 
knoweth  Me,  and  I know'  the  Father.”  § Oh  ! 
blessed  care  ! Oh  ! sovereign  providence  ! 
What  happiness  is  comparable  to  this  ? Hear 
the  prophet  Ezechiel,  speaking  in  the  person  of 
God,  and  beautifully  describing  His  loving 
watchfulness  over  us  : “ Behold  I Myself  will 
seek  My  sheep,  and  will  visit  them.  As  the 
shepherd  visiteth  his  flock  in  the  day  wThen  he 
shall  be  in  the  midst  of  his  sheep  that  were  scat- 
tered, so  will  I visit  My  sheep,  and  will  deliver 
them  out  of  all  places  where  they  have  been 
scattered  in  the  cloudy  and  dark  day.  And 
I will  bring  them  out  from  the  peoples,  and 
will  gather  them  out  of  the  countries,  and 
will  bring  them  to  their  own  land  ; and  I 

*Deut.  i.  31.  t Jer.  xxxi.  20.  X St.John  x.  14.  § Verse  15. 


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137 


will  feed  them  in  the  mountains  of  Israel, 
by  the  rivers,  and  in  all  the  habitations  of 
the  land.  I will  feed  them  in  the  most  fruit- 
ful pastures,  and  their  pastures  shall  be  in 
the  high  mountains  of  Israel.  There  shall 
they  rest  on  the  green  grass,  and  be  fed  in 
fat  pastures  upon  the  mountains  of  Israel.  I 
will  feed  My  sheep  ; and  I will  cause  them  to 
lie  down,  saith  the  Lord  God.  I will  seek  that 
which  was  lost,  and  that  which  was  driven 
away  I will  bring  again;  and  I will  bind  up  that 
which  was  broken,  and  I will  strengthen  that 
which  was  weak,  and  that  which  was  fat  and 
strong  I will  preserve  ; and  I will  feed  them  in 
judgment  ”* — that  is,  with  great  care  and  ten- 
derness. “I  will  make  a covenant  of  peace 
with  them/’  the  prophet  continues,  “and  will 
cause  the  evil  beasts  to  cease  out  of  the  land; 
and  they  that  dwell  in  the  wilderness  shall 
sleep  secure  in  the  forests.  And  I will  make 
them  a blessing  round  about  my  hill;  and  I will 
send  down  the  rain  in  its  season.  There  shall 
be  showers  of  blessing.”  f In  what  stronger 
terms  could  God  express  the  tenderness  of  His 
love  ? It  is  needless  to  say  that  the  flock  men- 
tioned represents  the  just,  and  the  fat  lands 
and  pastures  the  spiritual  riches  and  treasures 
with  which  God  surrounds  them.  The  Holy 
Spirit  makes  use  of  the  same  touching  figure 
again  in  the  Twenty-second  Psalm,  where  the 
different  offices  of  a shepherd  are  portrayed. 

God  is  our  Shepherd,  because  He  guides  us  ; 
He  is  also  our  King,  because  He  protects  us  ; 

* Ezech . xxxi  v.  11-17.  t Verses  25, 26. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


our  Master,  because  He  instructs  us  ; our  Phy- 
sician, because  He  heals  us  ; and  our  Guar- 
dian, because  He  watches  oyer  us.  Holy  Scrip- 
ture is  full  of  these  names.  But  the  tenderest 
of  all,  the  one  which  best  expresses  His  love,  is 
that  of  Spouse,  which  occurs  most  frequently 
in  the  Canticle  of  Canticles,  though  mentioned 
many  times  in  other  parts  of  the  Scriptures. 
With  this  name  would  He  have  even  sinners  in- 
voke Him  : “ From  this  time  call  to  Me  : Thou 
art  my  Father,  the  Guide  of  my  virginity.”  * 

But  why  seek  in  Scripture  various  names  ? 
Cannot  every  name  expressive  of  good  be  ap- 
plied to  our  Saviour  ? Does  not  he  who  seeks 
and  loves  Him  find  in  Him  the  fulfilment  of  all 
his  desires?  Hence,  St.  Ambrose  says:  “We 
possess  all  things  in  Christ,  or  rather  Christ  is 
all  things  to  us.  If  you  would  be  healed  of  your 
wounds,  He  is  a Physician;  if  you  thirst,  He 
is  a living  Fountain  ; if  you  fear  death,  He  is 
your  Life  ; if  you  are  weary  of  the  burden  of 
sin,  He  is  your  Justification  ; if  you  hate  dark- 
ness, He  is  uncreated  Light;  if  you  would  reach 
Heaven,  He  is  the  Way ; if  you  hunger,  He  is 
your  Food.”  f Behold  how  numerous  are  the 
titles  which  represent  this  one  and  indivisible 
God,  Who  is  all  things  to  us  for  the  healing  of 
our  innumerable  infirmities. 

We  have  selected  a few  of  the  passages  of 
Scripture  bearing  on  our  subject,  to  comfort 
the  just  and  to  win  and  encourage  souls  who 
have  not  yet  begun  to  serve  God.  These  con- 
soling truths  will  support  them  in  labor  ; will 

* Jer.  iii.  4.  t “ De  Virg.,”  L.  iii. 


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139 


reassure  them  in  danger  ; will  comfort  them  in 
tribulation  ; will  inflame  them  with  love  for  so 
good  a Master,  and  impel  them  to  give  them- 
selves wholly  to  the  service  of  Him  who  gives 
Himself  so  completely  to  them.  Thus  we  see 
that  the  principal  foundation  of  the  Christian 
life  is  the  practical  knowledge  of  this  truth. 

What  are  all  the  promises  of  the  world  com- 
pared to  the  assurance  and  hopes  contained  in 
these  blessed  titles  ? How  much  reason  have 
they  to  rejoice  who  are  the  objects  of  the  love 
of  which  the  Scriptures  speak  in  such  beautiful 
terms  ! “ Be  glad  in  the  Lord/’  says  the 

prophet,  “ and  rejoice,  ye  just;  and  glory,  all  ye 
right  of  heart  !”*  Yes,  let  others  rejoice  in 
honors,  in  riches,  or  in  dignities  ; but  you  who 
possess  God  for  your  portion  enjoy  an  inheri- 
tance which  exceeds  all  other  blessings  as  far  as 
God  exceeds  all  created  things.  “ They  have 
called  the  people  happy,”  says  the  Psalmist, 
“ that  hath  these  things  ; but  happy  is  that 
people  whose  God  is  the  Lord.”  f Why,  0 
prophet?  Because  in  possessing  God  all  things 
are  possessed.  Therefore,  though  I am  a king 
and  the  ruler  of  a great  nation,  I will  glory 
only  in  the  Lord.  How,  then,  can  men  refuse  to 
serve  Him  who  is  the  Source  of  all  blessings  ? 
“ What  iniquity  have  your  fathers  found  in 
Me,”  God  asks  by  the  mouth  of  His  prophet, 
“ that  they  are  gone  far  from  Me,  and  have 
walked  after  vanity,  and  are  become  vain  ? Am 
I become  a wilderness  to  Israel,  or  a lateward 
springing  land?”  J If  God  complain  so  bitterly 

* Ps.  xxxi.  11.  t Ps.  cxliii.  15.  $ Jer.  ii.  5,  31. 


140 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


of  the  ingratitude  of  a people  who  had  received 
from  Him  but  temporal  favors,  how  much  more 
reason  has  He  to  reproach  us,  upon  whom  He 
has  lavished  so  many  spiritual  and  divine 
blessings  ! 

If  unmoved  by  the  loving  providence  of  God 
towards  the  just,  at  least  be  not  insensible  to 
the  rigor  with  which  He  punishes  the  wicked, 
to  whom  His  justice  is  meted  out  according  to 
their  own  measure.  For  if  they  forget  their 
Creator  He  will  forget  them.  If  they  despise 
Him  He  will  despise  them.  How  miserable 
will  their  condition  then  be!  They  will  be  as  a 
school  without  a master,  a ship  without  a rud- 
der, a flock  without  a shepherd.  “ I will  not 
feed  you,”  God  says;  “that  which  dieth,  let  it 
die  ; and  that  which  is  cut  off,  let  it  be  cut  off. 
Let  the  rest  devour  every  one  the  flesh  of  his 
neighbor.” * “I  will  hide  my  face  from  them, 
and  will  consider  what  their  last  end  shall  be.”  f 

The  just  punishment  inflicted  by  God  on 
the  wicked  is  still  more  plainly  declared  in 
Isaias.J  The  Prophet  speaks  of  his  people 
under  the  figure  of  a vine  which  has  been  care- 
fully pruned  and  dressed,  but  has  failed  to  bear 
fruit.  God,  therefore,  pronounces  sentence 
against  it:  “I  will  show  you  what  I will  do  to 
My  vineyard.  I will  take  away  the  hedge  there- 
of, and  it  shall  be  wasted.  I will  break  down 
the  wall  thereof,  and  it  shall  be  trodden  down. 
And  I will  make  it  desolate ; it  shall  not  be 
pruned,  and  it  shall  not  be  digged;  but  briers  and 
thorns  shall  come  up ; and  I will  command  the 

* Zach.  xi.  9.  t Deut  xxxii.  20.  $ v.  5,  6. 


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141 


clouds  to  rain  no  rain  upon  it.”  That  is,  God 
will  take  from  man  all  the  efficacious  help 
and  protection  which  he  ungratefully  refused, 
and  will  leave  him  to  inevitable  ruin  and  de- 
struction. 

What  greater  misfortune  can  befall  a man 
than  to  be  thus  deprived  of  God’s  care  in  a 
world  beset  with  dangers  ? With  what  arms 
will  a creature  so  frail,  helpless,  and  blind  resist 
the  attacks  of  the  numerous  enemies  that  assail 
him  ? Where  will  he  find  strength  to  resist 
them  ? Who  w7ill  enlighten  him,  to  enable  him 
to  avoid  their  snares  ? Without  the  divine  as- 
sistance how  can  he  avoid  destruction? 

But  the  punishment  of  the  wicked  does  not 
end  here.  God  not  only  abandons  them  to  their 
weakness,  but  scourges  them  with  His  justice,  so 
that  the  eyes  which  hitherto  watched  for  their 
happiness  now  look  unmoved  upon  their  ruin. 
This  God  Himself  tells  us  by  the  mouth  of  the 
prophet:  “I  will  set  my  eyes  upon  them  for 
evil,  and  not  for  good  ” * — that  is,  the  providence 
which  hitherto  watched  for  their  defence  will 
now  work  for  vengeance  on  their  crimes  and 
disorders.  Even  more  expressive  is  the  lan- 
guage of  Osee  : f “I  will  be  like  a moth  to 
Ephraim,  and  like  rottenness  to  the  house  of 
Juda.  I will  be  like  a lioness  to  Ephraim,  and 
like  a lion’s  whelp  to  the  house  of  Juda:  I,  I will 
catch,  and  go ; I will  take  away,  and  there  is 
none  that  can  rescue.”  Hear  also  the  prophet 
Amos,  wTho,  after  telling  us  that  God  will  put 
the  wicked  to  the  sword  for  their  sins  of 

t v.  12, 14. 


* Amos  ix.  4. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


covetousness,  thus  continues:  “They  shall  flee, 
and  he  that  shall  flee  of  them  shall  not  be  de- 
livered. Though  they  go  down  even  to  hell, 
thence  shall  My  hand  bring  them  out  ; and 
though  they  climb  up  to  heaven,  thence  will  I 
bring  them  down.  And  though  they  be  hid  in 
the  top  of  Carmel,  I will  search  and  take  them 
away  from  there  ; and  though  they  hide  them- 
selves in  the  depth  of  the  sea,  there  will  I com- 
mand the  serpent,  and  he  shall  bite  them.  And 
if  they  go  into  captivity  before  their  enemies, 
there  will  I command  the  sword,  and  it  shall 
kill  them.  And  I will  set  my  eyes  upon  them 
for  evil,  and  not  for  good.”  * Who  can  read 
these  words,  remembering  that  they  are  utter- 
ed by  God,  and  not  tremble  at  the  misfortune 
of  having  an  enemy  so  powerful  and  so  relent- 
less in  seeking  his  destruction  ? What  rest  or 
peace  can  he  enjoy  who  knows  that  God’s  eyes  | 
are  upon  him  with  wrath  and  indignation  ? If 
it  be  so  great  a calamity  to  lose  God’s  love,  wdiat 
must  it  be  to  have  His  providence  armed  against 
you  ; to  have  turned  against  you  that  sword  ! 
which  was  formerly  drawn  in  your  defence  ; to 
have  your  destruction  now  viewed  without 
emotion  by  those  eyes  which  formerly  watched 
so  solicitously  for  your  welfare  ; to  have  that 
arm  which  hitherto  sustained  you  now  stretch-  I 
ed  forth  to  annihilate  you  ; to  have  that  Heart 
which  in  the  time  of  your  goodness  breathed  but 
love  and  peace  for  you  now  filled  with  projects 
for  your  abasement  ; to  have  your  shield  and 
defence  changed  into  a moth  to  consume  you,  a 

* Amos  ix.  1-5. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


143 


roaring  lion  to  devour  you  ? Who  can  sleep 
securely,  knowing  that  God  is  over  him  like 
the  rod  of  Jeremias  to  chastise  him  ? Who  can 
thwart  the  designs  of  God  ? What  power  can 
resist  His  arm  ? “ Who  hath  resisted  Him,” 

says  Job,  “and  hath  had  peace  ? ” * 

Numerous  are  the  passages  in  Scripture  in 
which  God  threatened  the  withdrawal  of  His 
providence  as  one  of  the  most  terrible  punish- 
ments which  He  could  inflict  upon  the  sinner. 
“My  people  heard  not  My  voice,”  He  says, 
“ and  Israel  hearkened  not  to  Me.  So  I let 
them  go  according  to  the  desires  of  their  heart. 
They  shall  walk  in  their  own  inventions.”  f 
Abandoned  to  the  desires  of  their  corrupt 
hearts,  they  will  proceed  from  disorder  to  dis- 
order until  their  ruin  is  accomplished.  What, 
then,  is  man  without  God  but  a garden  with- 
out a gardener,  a ship  without  a pilot,  a state 
without  a ruler,  an  army  without  a general,  a 
body  without  a soul  ? 

Behold,  dear  Christian,  how  God’s  provi- 
dence encompasses  you.  If  you  are  not  incited 
to  fidelity  through  gratitude  for  His  paternal 
care,  at  least  the  fear  of  abandonment  by  Him 
should  impel  you  to  serve  Him.  For  many  are 
moved  by  threats  and  the  fear  of  punishment, 
while  they  remain  utterly  insensible  to  the  hope 
of  favor  or  reward. 


* Job  ix.  4. 


tPs.  lxxx.  12,  13. 


144 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


CHAPTER  XIII. 

THE  SECOND  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  : THE 
GRACE  WITH  WHICH  THE  HOLY  SPIRIT 
FILLS  DEVOUT  SOULS. 

GOD’S  fatherly  providence,  of  which  we  have 
just  been  treating,  is  the  source  of  all  the 
favors  and  privileges  which  He  bestows 
upon  those  who  serve  Him.  For  it  be- 
longs to  this  providence  to  furnish  man  with 
all  the  means  necessary  for  his  perfection  and 
happiness. 

The  most  important  of  these  means  is  the 
grace  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  which  in  its  turn  is 
the  source  of  all  other  heavenly  gifts.  This 
is  the  garment  with  which  the  good  father  in 
the  parable  ordered  the  prodigal  to  be  clothed. 
But,  that  we  may  have  a clearer  idea  of  it,  let  us 
see  how  theologians  define  it.  Divine  grace, 
they  tell  us,  is  a participation  of  the  divine  na- 
ture, that  is,  of  God’s  sanctity,  purity,  and 
greatness,  by  virtue  of  which  man  is  despoiled 
of  the  baseness  and  corruption  of  his  nature 
and  is  clothed  with  the  beauty  and  nobility  of 
Jesus  Christ.  Holy  writers  illustrate  this  by  a 
familiar  example.  A piece  of  iron,  when  taken 
out  of  the  fire,  though  it  still  continues  to  be 
iron,  resembles  the  fire  on  account  of  its  heat 
and  brightness.  Grace  acts  in  like  manner. 
As  a divine  quality  it  is  infused  into  the  soul, 
and  so  transforms  man  into  God  that,  without 
ceasing  to  be  man,  he  assumes  the  virtues  and 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


145 


purity  of  God.  This  was  the  change  wrought 
in  St.  Paul  when  he  said  : “I  live,  now  not  I, 
but  Christ  liveth  in  me.  ” * 

Grace  may  also  be  called  a supernatural  and 
divine  form,  by  means  of  which  man  lives  as  be- 
comes his  origin,  which  is  also  supernatural  and 
divine. 

Grace  is,  moreover,  a spiritual  dress,  a chaste 
ornament  of  the  soul,  which  renders  her  so  beau- 
tiful in  the  eyes  of  God  that  He  adopts  her  as 
His  child,  or  rather  accepts  her  as  His  Spouse. 
It  was  this  adornment  which  made  the  prophet 
rejoice  when  he  said  : “ I will  greatly  rejoice  in 
the  Lord,  and  my  soul  shall  be  joyful  in  my 
God.  For  He  hath  clothed  me  with  the  gar- 
ments of  salvation;  and  with  the  robe  of  justice 
He  hath  covered  me,  as  a bridegroom  decked 
with  a crown,  and  as  a bride  adorned  with  her 
jewels/’  f Such  are  the  gifts  with  which  the 
Holy  Spirit  enriches  and  adorns  the  soul.  This 
is  the  garment  of  divers  colors  in  which  the 
king’s  daughter  was  gloriously  arrayed.  J For 
from  grace  proceeds  that  glorious  variety  of 
virtues  which  forms  the  power  and  beauty  of 
the  soul. 

From  what  has  been  said  we  can  judge  of  the 
effects  of  grace  in  a soul.  It  renders  her  so 
beautiful,  as  we  have  said,  that  God,  Who  is 
captivated  with  her  loveliness,  chooses  her  for 
His  Spouse,  His  temple,  and  His  dwelling. 
Another  effect  of  grace  is  the  strength  which  it 
imparts  to  the  soul.  This  beauty  and  this 
strength  are  extolled  in  the  Canticle  of  Canti- 

* Gal.  ii.  20.  + Isaias  lxi.  10.  $ Ps.  xliv. 


146 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


cles,  where  the  Angels  exclaim  : “ Who  is  she 
that  cometh  forth  as  the  morning  rising,  fair 
as  the  moon,  bright  as  the  sun,  terrible  as 
an  army  set  in  array  ? ” * 

Grace,  then,  is  like  an  invulnerable  armor. 
So  strong  does  it  render  man  that,  according 
to  St.  Thomas,  the  least  degree  of  grace  suffices 
to  triumph  over  all  sin.f 

A third  effect  of  grace  is  to  render  man  so 
pleasing  to  God  that  every  good  action  per- 
formed  by  him  contributes  to  merit  foi  him 
eternal  life.  By  good  we  here  mean  not  only 
acts  of  virtue,  hut  all  those  which  arise  from 
the  necessities  of  nature,  such  as  eating,  drink- 
ing, and  sleeping,  which,  by  an  upright  inten- 
tion, become  pleasing  to  God  and  meritorious 
in  His  sight.  In  addition  to  all  this,  grace 
makes  man  the  adopted  child  of  God  and  heir 
to  His  kingdom.  Our  Saviour  showed  the 
o-reatness  of  this  privilege  when,  seeing  His 
Apostles  rejoicing  that  evil  spirits  obeyed  them 
in  His  name,  He  said:  “Rejoice  not  in  this, 
that  spirits  are  subject  unto  you;  but  rejoice  m 
this,  that  your  names  are  written  in  Heaven.  \ 
Grace,  finally,  qualifies  man  for  all  good; 
smooths  the  way  to  heaven;  makes  the  yoke  of 
Christ  sweet  and  light;  cures  him  of  his  infirmi- 
ties and  lightens  his  burdens,  so  that  he  is 
enabled  to  run  in  the  path  of  virtue.  More- 
over, it  strengthens  all  the  faculties  of  the  soul, 
enlightens  the  understanding,  inflames  the 
heart,  moderates  the  appetites  of  the  flesh,  and 
constantly  stimulates  us,  so  that  we  may  not 
* Cant.  vi.  9.  t “ Summa,”  p.  3,  q.  62,  a.  6.  $ St.  Luke  x.  20. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


147 


relax  in  the  pursuit  of  virtue.  And  as  all  the 
passions  which  reside  in  the  inferior  part  of 
the  soul  are  so  many  breaches  in  the  fortifica- 
tion of  virtue,  through  which  the  enemy  effects 
an  entrance,  grace  guards  these  avenues  of  sin 
with  sentinels.  These  are  the  infused  virtues, 
each  of  which  is  the  opposite  of  the  passion 
or  vice  which  imperils  the  peace  of  the  soul. 
Thus,  temperance  resists  gluttony,  chastity 
combats  impurity,  humility  overcomes  pride. 

But  the  crowning  effect  of  grace  is  that  it 
brings  God  into  our  souls,  in  order  to  govern  us, 
protect  us,  and  lead  us  to  Heaven.  There  God 
is  pleased  to  abide,  like  a king  in  his  kingdom, 
a father  in  the  bosom  of  his  family,  a master 
with  beloved  disciples,  a shepherd  in  the  midst 
of  his  flock.  Since,  then,  this  inestimable 
pearl,  the  pledge  of  so  many  other  blessings,  is 
the  unfailing  lot  of  the  virtuous,  who  will  hesi- 
tate to  imitate  the  wisdom  of  that  merchant 
who  sold  all  he  had  to  purchase  this  pearl  ? * 


* St.  Matt.  xiii. 


148 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


CHAPTER  XIV. 

THE  THIRD  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  : THE  SUPER- 
NATURAL LIGHT  AND  KNOWLEDGE  GRANTED 
TO  VIRTUOUS  SOULS. 

IIIE  heavenly  light  and  wisdom  with  which 
God  enlightens  the  just  form  the  third  re- 
ward of  virtue.  And  this  blessing,  as  well 
as  all  the  others,  is  the  effect  of  that  grace 
which  not  only  rules  our  appetites  and  strength- 
ens our  will,  but  removes  the  darkness  of  sin 
from  our  understanding  and  enables  us  to 
know  and  fulfil  our  duty.  St.  Gregory  tells  us 
that  ignorance  of  our  duty  as  well  as  inability 
to  do  our  duty  are  alike  punishments  of  sin.* 
Hence,  David  so  frequently  repeats:  “The 
Lord  is  my  light ” against  ignorance,  “the 
Lord  is  my  salvation  ” f against  weakness.  On 
the  one  side  He  teaches  us  what  we  should  de- 
sire, and  on  the  other  He  strengthens  us  to  exe- 
cute our  desires.  And  both  of  these  favors  are 
bestowed  on  us  through  grace.  Eor  in  addition 
to  a habit  of  faith  and  infused  wisdom  which 
teach  us  what  we  are  to  believe  and  practise, 
grace  imparts  to  us  the  gifts  of  the  Holy  Ghost. 
Four  of  these  gifts  relate  particularly  to  the 
understanding  : wisdom,  which  instructs  us  in 
spiritual  and  sublime  things;  knowledge,  which 
informs  us  of  the  things  of  earth  and  time  ; un- 
derstanding, which  helps  us  appreciate  the 
beauty  and  harmony  of  the  divine  mysteries;  and 

* Moral.,”  L.  25,  c.  9 t Ps.  xxvi.  1. 


y 

The  Sinner's  Guide . 149 

counsel,  which  guides  and  directs  us  amidst  the 
difficulties  which  we  encounter  in  the  path  of 
virtue.  These  gifts  are  so  many  rays  of  light 
which  proceed  from  the  divine  centre  of  grace, 
and  in  Scripture  are  called  an  unction  or  anoint- 
ing. “But  you  have  the  unction  from  the 
Holy  One,  and  know  all  things. ” * Oil  has  the 
double  virtue  of  giving  light  and  healing,  and 
fitly  represents  the  divine  unction  which  en- 
lightens the  darkness  of  our  understanding  and 
heals  the  wounds  of  our  will.  This  is  the  oil 
which  exceeds  in  value  the  purest  balsam,  and 
for  which  David  rejoiced  when  he  said:  “Thou, 
0 Lord  ! hast  anointed  my  head  with  oil.”  f It 
is  evident  that  the  Royal  Prophet  did  not  speak 
here  of  a material  oil,  and  that  by  the  head  he 
designated,  according  to  the  interpretation  of 
Didymus,  the  noblest  part  of  the  soul,  or  the 
understanding,  which  is  illumined  and  support- 
ed by  the  unction  of  the  Holy  Spirit. 

Since  it  is  the  property  and  function  of  grace 
to  make  us  virtuous,  we  must  love  virtue  and 
abhor  sin,  which  we  cannot  do  if  the  under- 
standing be  not  divinely  enlightened  to  discern 
the  malice  of  sin  and  the  beauty  of  virtue.  For 
j the  will,  according  to  philosophers  and  theo- 
logians, is  a blind  faculty,  incapable  of  acting 
without  the  guidance  of  the  intellect,  wTiich 
points  out  the  good  it  should  choose  and  love, 
and  the  evil  it  should  reject  and  hate.  The 
same  is  true  of  fear,  of  hope,  and  of  hatred  for 
sin.  We  can  never  acquire  these  sentiments 


* 1 St.  John  ii.  20. 


t Ps.  xxii.  5. 


150 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


without  a just  knowledge  of  the  goodness  of 
God  and  the  malice  of  sin. 

Grace,  as  you  have  already  learned,  causes 
God  to  dwell  in  our  souls;  and  as  God,  in  the 
words  of  St.  John,  is  “the  true  Light,  which 
enlighteneth  every  man  that  cometli  into  this 
world,  ”*  the  purer  a soul  is  the  brighter  will 
this  Light  shine  in  her,  just  as  glass,  according 
as  it  is  clearer,  reflects  more  strongly  the  rays 
of  the  sun.  Hence,  St.  Augustine  calls  God 
the  “wisdom  of  a purified  soul,”  f because  He 
fills  her  with  His  light,  which  enables  her  to 
apprehend  all  that  is  necessary  for  salvation. 
Nor  should  this  surprise  us  when  we  consider 
with  what  care  God  provides  even  the  brute 
creation  with  all  that  is  necessary  for  the  main- 
tenance of  life.  For  whence  is  that  natural  in- 
stinct which  teaches  the  sheep  to  distinguish 
among  plants  those  which  are  poisonous  and 
those  which  are  wholesome  ? Who  has  taught 
them  to  run  from  the  wolf  and  to  follow  the 
dog  ? Was  it  not  God,  the  Author  of  nature  ? 
Since,  then,  God  endows  the  brute  creation 
with  the  discernment  necessary  for  the  preser- 
vation of  their  animal  life,  have  we  not  much 
more  reason  to  feel  that  He  will  communicate 
to  the  just  the  knowledge  necessary  for  the 
maintenance  of  their  spiritual  life  ? 

This  example  teaches  us  not  only  that  such  a 
knowledge  really  exists,  but  also  marks  the 
character  of  this  knowledge.  It  is  not  a mere 
theory  or  speculation;  it  is  eminently  practical. 
Hence  the  difference  between  knowledge  di- 

* St.  John  i.  9.  t “ De  Lib.  Arbit.,”  L.  2. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


151 


, vinely  communicated  and  that  which  is  acquired 
in  the  schools.  The  latter  only  illumines  the 
intellect,  but  the  former,  the  inspirations  of  the 
Holy  Ghost,  communicates  itself  to  the  will, 
strengthens  it  for  good,  governs  and  stimulates 
i it.  By  its  efficacious  virtue  this  divine  know- 
; ledge  penetrates  into  the  depths  of  the  soul, 

| transforms  our  passions,  and  remodels  us  upon 
the  likeness  of  Christ.  Hence,  the  Apostle  tells 
us  : “The  word  of  God  is  living  and  effectual, 

, and  more  piercing  than  any  two-edged  sword, 

; and  reaching  unto  the  division  of  the  soul  and 
: spirit”  * — that  is,  Separating  the  spiritual  man 
from  the  animal  man. 

This,  then,  is  one  of  the  principal  effects  of 
i grace,  and  one  of  the  most  beautiful  rewards 
of  virtue  in  this  life.  But  to  prove  this  truth 
more  clearly  to  carnal  men,  who  reluctantly 
accept  it,  we  will  confirm  it  by  undeniable  pas- 
sages from  both  the  Old  and  the  New  Testa- 
ment. In  the  New  Testament  our  Saviour 
tells  us  : “The  Holy  Ghost,  whom  the  Father 
will  send  in  My  name,  He  will  teach  you  all 
things,  and  bring  all  things  to  your  mind, 
whatsoever  I shall  have  said  to  you.”  f And 
again  : “ It  is  written  in  the  prophets  : And 
they  shall  all  be  taught  of  God.  Every  one 
that  hath  heard  of  the  Father,  and  hath  learn- 
ed, cometh  to  Me.”  J 

Numerous  are  the  passages  in  the  Old  Testa- 
ment which  promise  this  wisdom  to  the  just.  “ I 
am  the  Lord  thy  God,  that  teach  thee  profitable 
things,  that  govern  thee  in  the  way  that  thou 

* Heb.  iv.  12.  + St.  John  xiv.  26.  % St.  John  vi.  45. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


walkest.”*  “ The  month  of  the  just,”  says 
David,  “ shall  meditate  wisdom,  and  his  tongue 
shall  speak  judgment.”  f Throughout  the  one 
hundred  and  eighteenth  Psalm  how  frequent  is 
his  prayer  for  this  divine  wisdom!  “ Blessed  art 
Thou,  0 Lord  : teach  me  Thy  justifications. 
Open  Thou  my  eyes,  and  I will  consider  the 
wondrous  things  of  Thy  law.  Give  me  under- 
standing, and  I will  search  Thy  law  ; and  I will 
keep  it  with  my  whole  heart.” 

Shall  we  not,  therefore,  appreciate  the  happi- 
ness and  honor  of  possessing  such  a Master,  from 
Whom  wn  may  learn  sublime  lessons  of  immortal 
wisdom?  “If  Apollonius,”  says  St.  Jerome, 
“traversed  the  greater  part  of  the  world  to  be- 
hold Hipparchus  seated  upon  a golden  throne  in 
the  midst  of  his  disciples,  and  explaining  to 
them  the  movements  of  the  heavenly  bodies, 
what  should  not  men  do  to  hear  God,  from  the 
throne  of  their  hearts,  instructing  them,  not 
upon  the  motions  of  the  heavenly  bodies,  but 
how  they  may  advance  to  the  heavenly  king- 
dom ? ” 

If  you  would  appreciate  the  value  of  this  doc- 
trine, hear  how  it  is  extolled  by  the  prophet  in 
the  psalm  from  which  we  have  already  quoted  : 
“ I have  understood  more  than  all  my  teachers,” 
he  exclaims,  “ because  Thy  testimonies  are  my 
meditation.  I have  had  understanding  above 
ancients,  because  I have  sought  Thy  command- 
ments.” J More  expressive  still  are  the  words 
in  which  Isaias  enumerates  the  blessings  prom- 
ised to  God’s  servants:  “The  Lord  will  give 

* Isaias  xlviii.  17.  tPs.  xxxvi.  30.  $ Ps.  cxviii.  99,  100. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


153 


thee  rest  continually,  and  will  fill  thy  soul  with 
brightness,  and  deliver  thy  bones,  and  thou 
shalt  be  like  a watered  garden,  and  like  a foun- 
tain of  water  whose  waters  shall  not  fail.”* 
What  is  this  brightness  with  which  God  fills  the 
soul  of  the  just  but  that  clear  knowledge  of  all 
that  is  necessary  for  salvation  ? He  shows  them 
the  beauty  of  virtue  and  the  deformity  of  vice. 
He  reveals  to  them  the  vanity  of  this  world,  the 
treasures  of  grace,  the  greatness  of  eternal  glory, 
and  the  sweetness  of  the  consolations  of  the 
Holy  Spirit.  He  teaches  them  to  apprehend 
the  goodness  of  God,  the  malice  of  the  evil  one, 
the  shortness  of  life,  and  the  fatal  error  of  those 
whose  hopes  are  centred  in  this  world  alone. 
Hence  the  equanimity  of  the  just.  They  are 
neither  puffed  up  by  prosperity  nor  cast  dowm 
by  adversity.  “A  holy  man,”  says  Solomon, 
“continueth  in  wisdom  as  the  sun,  but  a fool 
is  changed  as  the  moon.”  f Unmoved  by  the 
winds  of  false  doctrine,  the  just  man  continues 
steadfast  in  Christ,  immovable  in  charity,  un- 
swerving in  faith. 

Be  not  astonished  at  the  effect  of  this  wisdom, 
for  it  is  not  earthly,  but  divine.  Is  there  any- 
thing of  earth  to  be  compared  with  it  ? “ The 

finest  gold  shall  not  purchase  it,  neither  shall 
silver  be  weighed  in  exchange  for  it.  It  cannot 
be  compared  with  the  most  precious  stone  sar- 
donyx, or  the  sapphire.  The  fear  of  the  Lord  is 
wisdom,  and  to  depart  from  evil  is  understand- 
ing.”  t 

And  this  wisdom  increases  in  the  just,  for 

* Isaias  lviii.  11.  t Ecclus.  xxvii.  12.  % Job  xxviii. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


Solomon  tells  us  : “The  path  of  the  just,  as  a 
shining  light,  goeth  forwards  and  increase th 
even  to  jierfect  day,”  * the  beginning  of  a blessed 
eternity,  when  God’s  wisdom  and  beauty  will  be 
revealed  to  us  in  all  their  brightness  and  power. 

This  great  gift  is  the  portion  of  the  just  only, 
for  the  wicked  are  plunged  in  an  ignorance  so 
intense  that  it  was  well  symbolized  by  the  dark- 
ness which  covered  the  land  of  Egypt.  The 
wicked  themselves  confess  their  blindness : 
“We  looked  for  light,  and  behold  darkness; 
brightness,  and  we  have  walked  in  the  dark. 
We  have  groped  for  the  wall,  like  the  blind,  and 
we  have  groped  as  if  we  had  no  eyes  ; we  have 
stumbled  at  noonday  as  in  darkness  ; we  are  in 
dark  places  as  dead  men.”  f What  can  equal 
the  blindness  of  him  who  sells  eternal  happiness 
for  the  fleeting  and  bitter  pleasures  of  this 
world  ? How  incomprehensible  is  the  ignorance 
of  him  who  neither  fears  hell  nor  strives  for 
Heaven  ; who  feels  no  horror  for  sin  ; who  dis- 
regards the  menaces  as  well  as  the  promises  of 
God  ; who  makes  no  preparation  for  death, 
which  hourly  seizes  its  victims  ; who  does  not 
see  that  momentary  joys  here  are  laying  up  for 
him  eternal  torments  hereafter!  “They  have 
not  known  or  understood ; they  wralk  on  in  the 
darkness”  J of  sin  through  this  life,  and  will 
pass  from  it  to  the  eternal  darkness  of  the  life 
to  come. 

Before  concluding  this  chapter  we  would 
make  the  following  suggestion  : Notwithstand- 
ing the  power  and  efficacy  of  this  wisdom 

* Prov.  iv.  18.  t Isaias  lix.  9,  10.  $ Ps.  lxxxi.  5. 


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155 


with  which  God  fills  the  souls  of  the  just,  no 
man,  however  great  the  light  he  has  received, 
should  refuse  to  submit  his  judgment  to  his 
lawful  superiors,  especially  the  authorized  teach- 
ers and  doctors  of  the  Church.  Who  ever  re- 
ceived greater  light  than  St.  Paul,  who  was  raised 
to  the  third  heaven  ; or  than  Moses,  who  spoke 
face  to  face  with  God  ? Yet  St.  Paul  went 
to  Jerusalem  to  confer  with  the  Apostles  upon 
the  Gospel  which  be  had  received  from  Christ 
Himself ; and  Moses  did  not  disdain  to  accept 
the  advice  of  his  father-in-law,  Jethro,  who  was 
a gentile.  For  the  interior  aids  of  grace  do  not 
exclude  the  exterior  succors  of  the  Church. 
Divine  Providence  has  willed  to  make  them  both 
an  aid  to  our  salvation.  As  the  natural  heat  of 
our  body  is  stimulated  by  that  of  the  sun,  and 
the  healing  powers  of  nature  are  aided  by  exte- 
rior remedies,  so  the  light  of  grace  is  strength- 
ened by  the  teaching  and  direction  of  the 
Church.  Whoever  refuses,  therefore,  to  humble 
himself  and  submit  to  her  authority  will  render 
himself  unworthy  of  any  favor  from  God. 


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CHAPTER  XY. 

TErE  FOURTH  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  : THE 
CONSOLATIONS  WITH  WHICH  THE  HOLY 
SPIRIT  VISITS  THE  JUST. 

WE  might  regard  charity,  or  the  love  of 
God,  as  the  fourth  privilege  of  virtue, 
particularly  as  the  Apostle  accounts  it 
the  first-fruit  of  the  Holy  Ghost ; but 
our  intention  being  at  present  to  treat  more  of 
the  rewards  of  virtue  than  of  virtue  itself,  we 
shall  devote  this  chapter  to  the  consolations  of 
the  Holy  Ghost,  and  refer  to  another  part  the 
consideration  of  charity,  the  most  noble  of  vir- 
tues. 

This  fourth  privilege  of  virtue  is  the  effect  of 
that  divine  light  of  which  we  spoke  in  the  pre- 
ceding chapter. 

This  is  the  teaching  of  David  when  he  says  : 
“ Light  is  risen  to  the  just,  and  joy  to  the  right 
of  heart.”  * The  Holy  Scriptures  furnish  abun- 
dant proof  of  this  truth.  If  the  path  of  virtue, 
0 deluded  sinner!  be  as  sad  and  difficult  as  you 
represent  it,  what  does  the  Psalmist  mean  when 
he  exclaims  : “ Oh!  how  great  is  the  multitude 
of  Thy  sweetness,  0 Lord  ! which  Thou  hast 
hidden  for  them  that  fear  Thee  ” ? f And  again : 
“My  soul  shall  rejoice  in  the  Lord,  and  shall 
be  delighted  in  His  salvation.  All  my  bones  ” 
(that  is,  all  the  powers  of  my  soul)  “shall  say: 
Lord,  who  is  like  to  Thee  ? ” J Do  not  these  texts 

* Ps.  xcvi.  11.  t Ps.  xxx.  20.  % Ps.  xxxiv.  9, 10. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


157 


clearly  tell  us  of  the  joy  with  which  the  * souls 
of  the  just  overflow,  which  penetrates  even  to 
the  flesh,  and  which  so  inebriates  man’s  whole 
being  that  he  breaks  forth  into  transports  of 
holy  joy  ? AVhat  earthly  pleasure  can  be  com- 
pared to  this  ? What  peace,  what  love,  what 
delight  can  equal  that  of  which  Thou,  0 my 
God!  art  the  inexhaustible  source?  “The 
voice  of  rejoicing  and  of  salvation,”  continues 
the  prophet,  “is  in  the  tabernacles  of  the  just.”* 
Yes,  only  just  souls  know  true  joy,  true  peace, 
true  consolation. 

“ Let  the  just  feast  and  rejoice  before  God, 
and  be  delighted  with  gladness.”  f “They  shall 
1 be  inebriated  with  the  plenty  of  Thy  house,  and 
Thou  shalt  make  them  drink  of  the  torrent  of 
Thy  pleasure.”  J Could  the  prophet  more  pow- 
erfully express  the  strength  and  sweetness  of 
these  consolations  ? They  shall  be  inebriated, 
he  tells  us  ; for  as  a man  overcome  by  the  fumes 
of  wine  is  insensible  to  all  outward  objects,  so 
the  just,  who  are  filled  with  the  wine  of  heaven- 
ly consolations,  are  dead  to  the  things  of  this 
world. 

“Blessed  is  the  people,”  he  farther  says, 
“ that  knoweth  jubilation.”  § Many  would  per- 
: haps  have  said,  Blessed  are  they  who  abound  in 
wealth,  who  are  protected  by  strong  walls,  and 
who  possess  valiant  soldiers  to  defend  them  ! 
But  David,  who  had  all  these,  esteemed  only 
that  people  happy  who  knew  by  experience  what 
it  was  to  rejoice  in  God  with  that  joy  of  spirit 


* Ps.  cxvii.  15. 
X Ps.  xxxv.  9. 


t Ps.  lxvii.  3. 

§ Ps.  lxxxviii.  16. 


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The  Sinner's  Guide . 


which,  according  to  St.  Gregory,  cannot  find 
expression  in  words  or  actions.  Happy  they 
who  are  sufficiently  advanced  in  love  for  God  to 
know  this  jubilation!  It  is  a knowledge  which 
Plato  with  all  his  wisdom,  and  Demosthenes  with 
all  his  eloquence,  could  never  attain.  Since, 
then,  God  is  the  author  of  this  joy,  how  great 
must  be  its  strength  and  sweetness  ! For  if  His 
arm  be  so  terrible  when  stretched  forth  to  chas- 
tise, it  is  equally  tender  when  extended  to  caress. 

We  are  told  that  St.  Ephrem  was  frequently 
so  overcome  with  the  strength  of  this  divine 
sweetness  that  he  was  forced  to  cry  out : “ With- 
draw from  me  a little,  0 Lord  ! for  my  body 
faints  under  the  weight  of  Thy  delights.”  * Oh! 
unspeakable  Goodness!  Oh!  sovereign  Sweet- 
ness, communicating  Thyself  so  prodigally  to 
Thy  creatures  that  the  human  heart  cannot 
contain  the  effusions  of  Thy  infinite  love  ! In 
this  inebriation  of  heavenly  sweetness  the 
troubles  and  trials  of  the  world  are  forgotten, 
and  the  soul  is  strengthened  and  elevated  to 
joys  beyond  the  power  of  her  natural  faculties. 
Just  as  water  under  the  action  of  fire  loses  its 
property  of  heaviness,  and  rises  in  imitation,  as 
it  were,  of  the  element  by  which  it  is  moved,  so 
the  soul  inflamed  with  the  fire  of  divine  love 
soars  to  Heaven,  the  source  of  this  flame,  and 
burns  with  desire  for  the  object  of  her  love. 
“Tell  n>y  beloved,”  she  cries,  “that  I languish 
with  love.”  f These  joys,  which  are  the  portion 
of  the  just  in  this  world,  need  not  excite  our 
wonder,  if  we  consider  all  that  God  endured  in 

* St.  John  Climachus.  t Canticles  v.  8. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


159 


His  Passion.  All  His  sufferings  and  ignominies 
were  for  the  sinner  as  well  as  for  the  just. 
Hence,  if  He  endured  so  much  for  the  sinner, 
what  will  He  not  do  for  the  happiness  of  faith- 
ful souls  ? 

The  devotion  and  fidelity  of  the  just  still 
farther  enable  us  to  form  some  conception  of  the 
ardor  with  which  God  promotes  their  happiness. 
Look  into  their  hearts,  and  you  will  find  there 
not  a thought  or  desire  which  is  not  for  Him 
Whose  glory  is  the  end  of  all  their  actions;  that 
they  spare  no  sacrifice  to  serve  Him  Who  is  con- 
tinually giving  them  proofs  of  His  love.  If, 
therefore,  frail  and  inconstant  man  be  capable 
of  such  devotedness,  what  will  God  not  do  for 
him  ? Isaias,  and  after  him  St.  Paul,  tell  us 
“ that  eye  hath  not  seen,  nor  ear  heard,  neither 
hath  it  entered  into  the  heart  of  man,  what 
things  God  hath  prepared  for  them  that  love 
Him.”  * 

We  could  cite  many  other  passages  from 
Scripture  in  proof  of  this  truth,  particularly 
from  the  Canticle  of  Canticles,  where  these 
divine  consolations  are  represented,  sometimes 
under  the  figure  of  generous  wine  which  rejoices 
the  heart  of  man,  or  as  milk  sweeter  than  honey, 
containing  all  strength,  and  filling  the  soul  with 
life  and  joy.  But  what  we  have  said  will  suffice 
to  prove  to  you  the  joys  which  are  reserved  for 
the  good,  and  how  far  these  heavenly  consola- 
tions exceed  the  pleasures  of  this  world.  For 
what  comparison  can  there  be  between  light  and 
darkness,  between  Christ  and  Belial  ? How 

* Isaias  lxiv.  4 and  1 Cor.  ii.  9. 


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The  Sinner's  Guide . 


can  the  happiness  afforded  by  a creature  be 
compared  to  that  which  is  given  by  the  Creator  ? 
That  it  is  particularly  in  prayer  that  just  souls 
enjoy  these  divine  consolations  is  a truth  we 
now  wish  to  prove. 

This  God  Himself  tells  us:  “The  children 
of  the  stranger  that  adhere  to  the  Lord,  to 
worship  Him,  and  to  love  His  name,  to  be  His 
servants ; every  one  that  keepeth  the  Sabbath 
from  profaning  it,  and  that  holdeth  fast  My 
covenant,  I will  bring  them  into  My  holy 
mount,  and  will  make  them  joyful  in  My 
house  of  prayer.”  * Hence  St.  Lawrence  Jus- 
tinian tells  us  that  the  hearts  of  the  just  are 
inflamed  in  prayer  with  love  for  their  Creator ; 
that  they  are  frequently  raised  above  themselves 
and  transported  in  spirit  to  the  abode  of  the 
Angels,  where,  in  presence  of  their  God,  they 
unite  their  praise  to  that  of  the  celestial  choirs. 
They  w^eep  and  rejoice,  for  the  sighs  of  their 
exile  mingle  with  the  anticipations  of  their 
blessed  country.  They  feast,  but  are  never 
filled.  They  drink,  but  are  never  satisfied. 
They  unceasingly  long  to  be  transformed  into 
Thee,  0 Lord!  Whom  they  contemplate  with 
faith,  Whom  they  adore  wdth  humility,  Whom 
they  seek  with  desire,  Whom  they  possess  and 
enjoy  through  love.  The  powers  of  their  mind 
are  inadequate  to  comprehend  this  happiness 
which  penetrates  their  whole  being,  yet  they 
tremble  to  lose  it.  Even  as  Jacob  wrestled 
with  the  Angel,  so  do  their  hearts  struggle  to 
retain  this  divine  sweetness  amid  the  turmoil 

* Isaias  lvi.  6,  7. 


Tlie  Sinner’s  Guide. 


161 


and  trouble  of  this  world,  crying  out  with  the 
Apostle:  “ Lord,  it  is  good  for  us  to  be  here/7  * 

When  inflamed  with  this  divine  fire  the  soul 
longs  to  be  freed  from  her  prison  of  clay.  She 
waters  her  bread  with  her  tears,  that  the  hour 
of  her  deliverance  may  not  be  delayed.  She 
mourns  that  she  has  learned  so  late  the  enjoy- 
ment of  these  treasures  which  God  has  pre- 
pared for  all  men.  She  longs  to  proclaim  them 
in  public  places,  crying  to  the  deluded  victims 
of  this  world:  “0  unhappy  people,  sense- 
less men  ! Whither  are  you  hastening  ? What 
is  the  object  of  your  search  ? Why  will  you 
not  seek  happiness  at  its  source  ? 6 Taste  and 

see  that  the  Lord  is  sweet ; blessed  is  the  man 
that  hopetli  in  Him.5  77  f 

“ What  have  I,  0 Lord  ! in  Heaven,  and  bi- 
sides Thee  what  do  I desire  upon  earth  ? For 
Thee  my  flesh  and  my  heart  hath  fainted  away  ; 
Thou  art  the  God  of  my  heart,  and  the  God 
that  is  my  portion  for  ever.77  J 

You  will  probably  tell  me  that  these  conso- 
lations are  reserved  for  those  who  are  already 
advanced  in  virtue.  No  doubt  these  intimate 
joys  of  the  soul  are  known  only  to  more  perfect 
souls,  yet  the  Divine  Master  grants  even  be- 
ginners ineffable  rewards.  The  happiness  of 
the  prodigal,  the  rejoicing  and  feasting  which 
resound  in  his  father’s  house,  are  an  image  of 
the  spiritual  joy  which  the  soul  experiences 
when  she  is  released  from  the  slavery  of  the 
evil  one  and  made  an  honored  child  of  Christ. 

It  is  very  evident  that  man,  bound  by  the 

* St.  Matt.  xvii.  4.  + Ps.  xxxiii.  9.  $ Ps.  lxxii.  25, 26. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


chains  of  the  flesh  and  the  allurements  of  the 
world,  could  not  trample  pleasure  under  foot 
and  resolutely  enter  the  path  of  virtue,  did  not 
God  accord  him  favors  which  sweeten  all  his 
sacrifices.  Therefore,  when  a soul  is  resolved 
to  turn  to  God,  He  smooths  the  way  for  her, 
and  removes  many  obstacles  that  might  cause 
her  to  lose  courage  aud  fall  back.  This  is 
what  God  did  for  the  children  of  Israel  when 
He  led  them  out  of  the  land  of  Egypt:  “ "When 
Pharao  had  sent  out  the  people,  the  Lord  led 
them  not  by  way  of  the  land  of  the  Philistines, 
which  is  near,  thinking  lest  perhaps  they  would 
repent,  if  they  should  see  wars  rise  against 
them,  and  would  return  into  Egypt.  ” * 

This  same  Providence  which  guided  the 
Israelites  continues  daily  to  manifest  like  care 
for  the  faithful,  bringing  them  out  of  the  sla- 
very of  the  world  and  leading  them  to  the 
conquest  of  Heaven,  the  true  promised  land. 

We  find  still  another  figure  of  this  truth  in 
the  Old  Testament  where  God  commanded  the 
first  and  the  last  days  of  the  week  to  be  ob- 
served with  particular  solemnity,  thus  teaching 
us  that  He  rejoices  with  His  children  in  the 
beginning  as  well  as  in  the  consummation  of 
their  perfection.  Those  who  are  entering  the 
path  of  virtue  are  treated  by  God  with  the  ten- 
derness and  consideration  which  are  shown  to 
children.  The  affection  of  a mother  for  her 
younger  sons  is  not  greater  than  that  which  she 
bears  those  of  riper  years,  yet  she  tenderly  car- 
ries the  little  ones  in  her  arms  and  leaves  the 


♦ Exod.  xiii.  17. 


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163 


older  ones  to  walk  by  themselves.  The  latter 
are  sometimes  obliged  to  earn  their  food  before 
it  is  given  them,  while  the  little  ones  not  only 
receive  it  unsolicited,  but  are  tenderly  fed. 
This  is  a faint  image  of  the  loving  care  with 
which  God  surrounds  those  who  are  beginning 
to  serve  Him. 

It  is  no  argument  against  this  truth  that  you 
do  not  experience  these  divine  consolations  when 
you  think  of  God.  Food  is  tasteless  to  a disor- 
dered palate,  and  for  a soul  vitiated  by  sin  and 
sensual  affections  this  heavenly  manna  has  no 
relish.  Cleanse  your  soul  with  the  tears  of  re- 
pentance, and  then  “ taste  and  see  that  the  Lord 
is  sweet.”  * 

What  are  all  the  pleasures  of  this  world  com- 
pared to  these  ineffable  consolations  ? Why  will 
you  not  begin  to  be  happy  from  this  moment  ? 
“ 0 man  ! ” says  Richard  of  St.  Victor,  quot- 
ing the  words  of  the  Gospel,  “ since  Paradise 
may  be  thine,  why  dost  thou  not  sell  all  thy  pos- 
sessions to  purchase  this  pearl  of  great  price  ? ” 
Dear  Christian,  delay  not  an  affair  so  important. 
Every  moment  is  worth  more  to  you  than  all 
the  riches  of  the  universe.  Even  though  you 
attain  this  heavenly  treasure,  you  will  never 
cease  to  lament  the  time  you  have  lost,  and  to 
cry  out  with  St.  Augustine  : “Too  late  have  I 
known  Thee,  too  late  have  I loved  Thee,  0 
Beauty  ever  ancient  and  ever  new  ! ” This 
illustrious  penitent,  though  he  unceasingly  la- 
mented the  lateness  of  his  conversion,  gave  him- 
self to  God  with  all  his  heart,  and,  therefore, 

* Ps.  xxxiii.  9. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


won  an  immortal  crown.  Do  you  imitate  him, 
and  thus  avoid  the  unhappy  lot  of  lamenting 
not  only  the  delay  of  your  conversion,  but  even 
the  loss  of  your  crown. 


CHAPTER  XVI. 

THE  FIFTH  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  : THE  PEACE 
OF  A GOOD  CONSCIENCE. 

GOD,  Who  gives  His  creatures  all  that  is 
necessary  for  their  perfection,  has  planted 
the  seed  of  virtue  in  the  soul  of  man,  and 
has  endowed  him  with  a natural  inclina- 
tion for  good  and  an  instinctive  hatred  of  evil. 
This  inclination  may  be  weakened  and  perverted 
by  a habit  of  vice,  but  it  can  never  be  totally  de- 
stroyed. We  find  a figure  of  this  truth  in  Job, 
where  we  see  that,  in  the  calamities  which  befell 
the  holy  man,  one  servant  always  escaped  to  an- 
nounce the  misfortune  which  had  overtaken  his 
master.  So  the  faithful  servant,  conscience, 
always  remains  with  the  sinner  in  the  midst  of 
his  disorders  to  show  him  what  he  has  lost  and 
the  state  to  which  his  sins  have  reduced  him. 

This  is  still  another  striking  proof  of  that 
providence  we  have  been  considering,  and  of 
the  value  God  attaches  to  virtue.  He  lias  placed 
in  the  centre  of  our  souls  a guardian  that  never 
sleeps,  a monitor  that  is  never  silent,  a master 
that  never  ceases  to  guide  and  sustain  us. 
Epictetus,  the  Stoic  philosopher,  was  deeply 


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165 


impressed  with  this  truth  when  he  said  that 
4 4 as  fathers  are  wont  to  entrust  their  children  to 
a tutor  who  will  prudently  guard  them  from 
vice  and  lead  them  to  virtue,  so  God,  after  creat- 
ing man,  confides  him  to  the  care  of  that  interior 
guide  which  stimulates  him  to  virtue  and  warns 
him  against  vice.” 

But  conscience,  which  is  such  a kind  master 
to  the  just,  becomes  a scourge  to  the  wick- 
ed. It  tortures  them  with  the  remembrance  of 
their  crimes  and  embitters  all  their  pleasures. 
Among  these  torments  of  conscience,  one  of  the 
greatest  is  the  hideousness  and  deformity  of  sin, 
which  is  so  abominable  in  itself  that  a heathen 
philosopher  once  said  : “ Though  I knew  that 
the  gods  would  pardon  me  if  I sinned,  and  that 
men  would  never  know  it,  yet  I would  not  take 
upon  me  a thing  so  abominable  in  itself.” 

Another  rod  with  which  conscience  scourges 
the  wicked  is  the  sight  of  the  evil  caused  by  sin, 
which,  like  the  blood  of  Abel,  seems  to  cry  to 
Heaven  for  vengeance.  Thus  we  are  told  that 
King  Antiochus  during  his  sickness  was  so  as- 
sailed by  the  thoughts  of  his  past  crimes 'that 
the  grief  they  occasioned  brought  on  his  death. 
“I  remember,”  he  cried,  “the  evils  that  I did 
in  Jerusalem,  whence  also  I took  away  all  the 
spoils  of  gold  and  of  silver  that  were  in  it,  and  I 
sent  to  destroy  the  inhabitants  of  Juda  without 
cause.  I know,  therefore,  that  for  this  cause 
these  evils  have  found  me  ; and  behold  I perish 
with  great  grief  in  a strange  land.”  * 

The  shame  and  dishonor  of  sin  form  another 

* 1 Mach.  vi.  12,  13. 


166 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


torment  for  the  wicked.  It  is  natural  for  man 
to  desire  esteem,  but  who  can  honor  the  sinner  ? 
It  is  natural  for  him  to  wish  to  be  loved,  but 
who  is  there  who  does  not  hate  iniquity  ? To 
these  miseries  let  us  add  the  fear  of  death, 
which  never  fails  to  haunt  the  wicked,  unless 
they  are  utterly  abandoned.  What  comfort  can 
they  have  in  reflecting  on  the  uncertainty  of 
life,  the  thought  of  the  terrible  account  they 
must  render,  and  the  anticipation  of  eternal 
torments  ? Consider  the  sentiments  which  such 
reflections  must  awaken  in  the  sinner’s  breast, 
and  you  will  form  some  idea  of  the  torments  of 
his  conscience. 

Of  these  torments  one  of  the  friends  of  Job 
spoke  when  he  said  .-  “ The  wicked  man  is 
proud  all  his  days,  and  the  number  of  the  years 
of  his  tyranny  is  uncertain.  The  sound  of 
dread  is  always  in  his  ears” — the  dread  sound  of 
an  accusing  conscience.  “And  when  there  is 
peace,  he  always  suspecteth  treason,”  for  he  can- 
not escape  the  alarms  and  the  warning  cries  of 
conscience.  “He  believeth  not  that  he  may 
return  from  darkness  to  light.”  He  believes  it 
impossible  to  extricate  himself  from  the  terrible 
darkness  which  envelops  him  ; he  almost  de- 
spairs of  ever  again  enjoying  the  peace  of  a good 
conscience.  “Looking  round  about  for  the 
sword  on  every  side,”  he  is  in  constant  dread  of 
avenging  justice.  “When  he  moveth  himself 
to  seek  bread  he  knoweth  that  the  day  of  dark- 
ness is  at  hand.”  Even  at  table,  the  place  of 
mirth  and  rejoicing,  the  fear  of  judgment  is 
upon  him.  “ Tribulation  shall  terrify  him,  and 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


167 


distress  shall  surround  him,  as  a king  that  is 
prepared  for  the  battle.  For  he  hath  stretched 
out  his  hand  against  God,  and  hath  strengthened 
himself  against  the  Almighty.”* 

Thus  does  Holy  Scripture  portray  the  tor- 
ments of  which  the  heart  of  the  sinner  is  both 
the  theatre  and  the  victim.  A philosopher  has 
wisely  said  that  by  an  eternal  law  of  God  it  is 
ordained  that  fear  should  be  the  inseparable 
companion  of  evil ; and  this  is  confirmed  by 
Solomon,  who  tells  us  : “ The  wicked  man  fleeth 
when  no  man  pursueth,  but  the  just,  bold  as  a 
lion,  shall  be  without  dread.”  f This  thought 
is  also  expressed  by  St.  Augustine,  who  says  : 
“Thou  hast  ordained,  0 Lord  ! that  every  soul 
in  which  disorder  reigns  should  be  a torment  to 
herself;  and  truly  it  is  so.”  { Nature  teaches 
us  the  same.  Does  not  every  creature  suffer  for 
infringing  the  law  of  its  being  ? Consider  the 
pain  which  follows  the  displacement  of  a bone 
in  the  body.  What  violence  a creature  endures 
when  out  of  its  element ! How  quickly  does 
sickness  follow  when  the  different  parts  of  the 
body  are  not  in  harmony  ! Since,  then,  it  be- 
longs to  a rational  creature  to  lead  a regular 
life,  how  can  he  escape  suffering,  how  can  he 
fail  to  become  his  own  torment,  when  he  dis- 
regards the  laws  of  reason  and  the  order  of  Di- 
vine Providence  ? “Who  hath  resisted  God 
and  hath  had  peace  ?Ӥ  Hence  we  see  that 
creatures  who  submit  to  the  order  of  God  en- 
joy a peace  and  security  which  abandon  them 


* Job  xv.  20-26. 

£ “Conf.,”  i.  12. 


t Prov.  xxviii.  1. 
§ Job.  ix.  4. 


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the  moment  they  resist  this  divine  law.  Man, 
in  his  innocence,  was  absolute  master  of  himself  ; 
but  after  his  disobedience  he  lost  his  peaceful 
empire  and  began  to  experience  remorse  and  an 
interior  warfare  against  himself. 

“ Is  there  any  greater  torment  in  this  world,” 
asks  St.  Ambrose,  “ than  remorse  of  con- 
science ? Is  it  not  a misery  more  to  be  feared 
than  sickness,  than  exile,  than  loss  of  life  or 
liberty  ?”  * “ There  is  nothing,”  says  St.  Isidore, 
“from  which  man  cannot  fly,  save  from  him- 
self. Let  him  go  where  he  will,  he  cannot 
escape  the  pursuit  of  an  accusing  conscience.” 
The  same  Father  adds  elsewhere  : “ There  is  no 
torment  which  exceeds  that  of  a guilty  con- 
science. If,  then,  you  desire  to  live  in  peace, 
live  in  the  practice  of  virtue.” 

This  truth  is  so  manifest  that  even  pagan 
philosophers  acknowledged  it.  “ What  doth  it 
avail  thee,”  says  Seneca,  “to  fly  from  the  con- 
versation of  men  ? For  as  a good  conscience 
may  call  all  the  world  to  witness  its  truth,  so  a 
bad  conscience  will  be  tormented  by  a thousand 
fears,  a thousand  anxieties,  even  in  a desert.  If 
thy  action  be  good  all  the  world  may  witness 
it ; if  it  be  evil  what  will  it  avail  thee  to  hide 
it  from  others,  since  thou  canst  not  hide  it  from 
thyself  ? Alas  for  thee  if  thou  makest  no  ac- 
count of  such  a witness,  for  its  testimony  is 
worth  that  of  a thousand  others.”  f “ Great,” 
says  Cicero,  “is  the  power  of  conscience  ; no- 
thing can  more  effectually  condemn  or  acquit  a 
man.  It  raises  the  innocent  above  all  fear  and 

* “ De  Officiis,”  L.  iii.  c.  4.  t Epist.  97. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


169 


keeps  the  guilty  in  perpetual  alarm.”  This  is 
one  of  the  eternal  torments  of  the  wicked,  for  it 
begins  even  in  this  life  and  will  continue  for 
ever  in  the  life  to  come.  It  is  the  undying 
worm  mentioned  by  Isaias,* 

Having  thus  seen  the  sad  effects  of  an  evil 
conscience,  we  will  be  enabled  .to  realize  more 
fully  the  blessed  peace  which  the  just  enjoy. 

Virtue  shelters  them  from  the  remorse  and 
sufferings  which  have  been  described  as  the  lot 
of  the  wicked.  The  consolations  and  sweet 
fruits  of  the  Holy  Ghost  fill  them  with  joy  and 
transform  the  soul  into  a terrestrial  paradise, 
where  He  is  pleased  to  take  up  His  abode. 
“ The  joy  of  a good  conscience,”  says  St.  Au- 
gustine, “ makes  the  soul  a true  paradise.”  f 
And  elsewhere  J he  says  : “ Be  assured,  ye  who 
seek  that  true  peace  promised  to  a future  life, 
that  you  may  here  enjoy  it  by  anticipation,  if 
you  will  but  love  and  keep  the  commandments 
of  Him  Who  promises  this  reward  ; for  you  will 
soon  find  by  experience,  that  the  fruits  of  jus- 
tice are  sweeter  than  those  of  iniquity.  You 
will  learn  that  the  joys  of  virtue,  even  in  the 
midst  of  trials  and  misfortunes,  far  exceed  all 
the  delights  of  pleasure  and  prosperity  accom- 
panied by  the  remorse  of  a bad  conscience.” 

Sin,  as  we  have  said,  finds  in  its  baseness  and 
enormity  its  own  punishment  ; so  virtue  finds 
in  its  beauty  and  worth  its  own  reward.  David 
teaches  us  this  truth  : “ The  judgments  of  the 
Lord  ” — that  is,  His  holy  commandments — 

t “ De  Gen.  ad  Lit.,”  L.  xii.  c.  34. 

X “Lib.  de  Cat.,”  ii.  9. 


* lxvi.  24. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


“ are  true,  justified  in  themselves.  More  to  be 
desired  than  gold  and  precious  stones,  and 
sweeter  than  honey  and  the  honeycomb.”  * 
This  was  his  own  experience,  for  he  says  : “ I 
have  been  delighted  in  the  wa)^  of  thy  testimo- 
nies, as  in  all  riches.”  f The  chief  cause  of  this 
joy  is ‘the  dignity  and  beauty  of  virtue,  which, 
as  Plato  declares,  is  incomparably  fair  and  love- 
ly. Finally,  so  great  are  the  advantages  of  a 
good  conscience  that,  according  to  St.  Am- 
brose, they  constitute  in  this  life  the  happiness 
of  the  just. 

The  ancient  philosophers,  as  we  have  seen, 
though  deprived  of  the  light  of  faith,  knew  the 
torments  of  a guilty  conscience.  Nor  were 
they  ignorant  of  the  joy  of  a good  conscience, 
as  we  learn  from  Cicero,  who,  in  his  “ Tuscu- 
lan  Questions,”  says  : “A  life  spent  in  noble 
and  honorable  deeds  brings  such  consolations 
with  it  that  just  men  are  either  insensible  to 
the  trials  of  life  or  feel  them  very  little.”  The 
same  author  adds  elsewhere  that  virtue  has 
no  more  brilliant,  no  more  honorable  thea- 
tre than  that  in  which  the  applause  of  con- 
science is  heard.  Socrates,  being  asked  who  could 
live  free  from  passion,  answered:  “ He  who  lives 
virtuously.”  And  Bias,  another  celebrated  phi- 
losopher, gave  almost  the  same  reply  to  a similar 
question.  “Who,”  he  was  asked,  “can  live 
without  fear  ? ” “ He  who  has  the  testimony 

of  a good  conscience,”  he  replied.  Seneca,  in 
one  of  his  epistles,  wrote  : “A  wise  man  is  al- 
ways cheerful,  and  his  cheerfulness  comes  from 

* Ps.  xviii.  10, 11.  t Ps.  cxviii.  14. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


171 


a good  conscience/’  If  pagan  philosophers, 
knowing  nothing  of  future  rewards,  so  justly 
esteemed  the  peace  of  a good  conscience,  how 
dearly  should  a Christian  prize  it  ! This  testi- 
mony of  a good  conscience  does  not,  however, 
exclude  that  salutary  fear  with  which  we  must 
work  out  our  salvation  ; but  such  a fear,  so  far 
from  discouraging  us,  inspires  us  with  marvel- 
lous courage  in  the  fulfilment  of  our  duties. 
We  feel,  in  the  depth  of  our  hearts,  that  our 
confidence  is  better  founded  when  moderated 
by  this  holy  fear,  without  which  it  would  be 
only  a false  security  and  a vain  jiresumption. 

It  was  of  this  privilege  that  the  Apostle  spoke 
when  he  said  : “ Our  glory  is  this  : the  testi- 
mony of  our  conscience,  that  in  simplicity  of 
heart  and  sincerity  of  God,  and  not  in  carnal 
wisdom,  but  in  the  grace  of  God,  we  have  con- 
versed in  this  world.”  * 

We  have  endeavored  to  explain  this  privilege 
of  virtue,  but,  despite  all  that  could  be  said, 
there  is  nothing  save  experience  that  can  give 
us  a keen  realization  of  it. 

* 2 Cor.  i.  12. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


CHAPTER  XVII. 

THE  SIXTH  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  : THE  CONFI- 
DENCE OF  THE  JUST. 

THE  joy  of  a good  conscience  is  always  ac- 
companied by  that  blessed  hope  of  which 
the  Apostle  speaks  when  he  tells  ns  to  re- 
joice in  hope  and  to  be  patient  in  tribula- 
tion.* This  is  the  rich  inheritance  of  the  chil- 
dren of  God,  their  general  refuge  in  tribulation, 
and  their  most  efficacious  remedy  against  all 
the  miseries  of  life. 

Before  entering  upon  this  subject  we  must 
bear  in  mind  that  as  there  are  two  kinds  of 
faith,  one  barren  and  dead,  the  other  living 
and  strengthened  by  charity,  fruitful  in  good 
works  ; so  there  are  two  kinds  of  hope — one 
barren,  which  gives  the  soul  no  light  in  dark- 
ness, no  strength  in  weakness,  no  consolation 
in  tribulation  ; the  other  “ lively/’  f which  con- 
soles us  in  sorrow,  strengthens  us  in  labor,  and 
sustains  us  in  all  the  dangers  and  trials  of  this 
world. 

This  living  hope  works  in  the  soul  many 
marvellous  effects,  which  increase  according  as 
the  charity  which  accompanies  it  becomes 
more  ardent.  The  first  of  these  effects  is  the 
strength  which  supports  man  under  the  labors 
of  life  by  holding  before  his  eyes  the  eternal 
reward  reserved  for  him  ; for,  in  the  opinion  of 
the  Saints,  the  stronger  this  hope  of  reward  the 

* Rom.  xii.  12.  t 1 St.  Peter  i.  3. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


173 


greater  is  man’s  courage  in  overcoming  obsta- 
cles in  the  path  of  virtue.  “ Hope/’  says  St. 
Gregory,  “ fixes  our  hearts  so  steadfastly  upon 
the  joys  of  Heaven  that  we  are  insensible  to  the 
miseries  of  this  life.”  “ The  hope  of  future 
glory,”  Origen  tells  us,  “ sustains  the  just  under 
the  trials  of  life,  as  the  hope  of  victory  supports 
the  soldier  during  battle.”  “If  the  furious 
tempests  of  the  sea,”  says  St.  Chrysostom, 
“cannot  daunt  the  sailor;  if  hard  frosts 
and  withering  blight  cannot  discourage  the 
farmer  ; if  neither  wounds  nor  death  itself  af- 
fright the  soldier  ; if  neither  falls  nor  blows 
dishearten  the  wrestler,  because  of  the  fleeting 
recompense  they  hope  from  their  labors,  how 
much  greater  should  be  the  courage  of  a Chris- 
tian, who  is  toiling  for  an  eternal  reward ! 
Therefore,  consider  not  the  roughness  of  the 
path  of  virtue,  but  rather  the  end  to  which  it 
leads  ; look  not  upon  the  pleasures  which  strew 
the  path  of  vice,  but  rather  upon  the  precipice 
to  which  it  is  hurrying  you.”  Who  is  so  fool- 
ish as  willingly  to  pursue  a path,  though  strewn 
with  flowers,  if  it  lead  to  destruction  ? Who, 
on  the  contrary,  would  not  choose  a rugged  and 
difficult  path,  if  it  lead  to  life  and  happiness  ? 

Holy  Scripture  is  full  of  commendations  of 
this  blessed  hope.  “ The  eyes  of  the  Lord,”  the 
prophet  Hanani  tells  King  Asa,  “behold  all 
the  earth,  and  give  strength  to  them  that  with 
a perfect  heart  trust  in  Him.”*  “The  Lord  is 
good  to  them  that  hope  in  Him,  and  to  the 
soul  that  seeketh  Him.”  f “ The  Lord  is  good, 

* 2 Par.  xvL  9.  t Lam.  iii.  25. 


174 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


and  giveth  strength  in  the  day  of  trouble,  and 
knoweth  them  that  hope  in  Him.”  * “If  yon 
return  and  be  quiet,  you  shall  be  saved  ; in  si- 
lence and  in  hope  shall  your  strength  be.”  f By 
silence  the  prophet  here  signifies  that  interior 
calm  and  sweet  peace  experienced  by  the  soul 
amid  all  her  troubles,  and  which  is  the  result 
of  that  hope  in  God’s  mercy  which  expels  all 
fear.  “ Ye  that  fear  the  Lord,  hope  in  Him, 
and  mercy  shall  come  to  you  for  your  delight. 
My  children,  behold  the  generations  of  men,  and 
know  ye  that  no  one  hath  hoped  in  the  Lord 
and  hath  been  confounded.”  J “Mercy  shall 
encompass  him  that  hopeth  in  the  Lord.”  § 
Mark  the  strength  of  this  wrord  encompass,  by 
which  the  prophet  teaches  us  that  a virtuous 
man  is  shielded  by  God’s  protection,  as  a king 
surrounded  by  his  guards.  Read  the  Psalms, 
and  you  will  see  how  beautifully  David  speaks 
of  the  power  and  merit  of  divine  hope. 

In  one  of  his  sermons  St.  Bernard  dwells  at 
some  length  on  this  virtue,  and  concludes  by 
saying : “ Faith  teaches  us  that  God  has  ines- 
timable rewards  reserved  for  His  faithful  ser- 
vants. Hope  answers,  c It  is  for  me  that  they 
are  prepared  ’ ; and  Charity,  inspired  by  Hope, 
cries  out,  ‘I  will  hasten  to  possess  them.’” 

Behold,  then,  the  happy  fruits  of  hope  ! It 
is  a port  of  refuge  from  the  storms  of  life  ; it 
is  a buckler  against  the  attacks  of  the  world  ; 
it  is  a storehouse  to  supply  us  in  the  time  of 
famine  ; it  is  the  shade  and  tent  of  which 


* Nahum  i.  7. 

X Ecclus.  ii.  9,  11. 


+ Isaias  xxx.  15. 
§ Ps.  xxxi.  10. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


175 


Isaias  spoke,  to  protect  us  from  the  heat  of 
summer  and  the  frosts  of  winter  ; in  fine,  it  is 
a remedy  for  all  our  evils,  for  there  is  no  doubt 
that  all  we  confidently  and  justly  hope  from 
God  will  be  granted  to  us,  if  for  our  welfare. 
Hence  St.  Cyprian  says  that  God’s  mercy  is  a 
healing  fountain,  and  hope  a vessel  into  which 
its  waters  flow.  Therefore,  the  larger  the  ves- 
sel the  more  abundantly  will  we  receive  of  these 
waters.  God  told  the  children  of  Israel  that 
every  place  upon  which  they  set  their  feet 
should  be  theirs.  So  every  salutary  blessing 
upon  which  man  fixes  his  hope  will  be  granted 
to  him.  Hope,  then,  for  all  blessings,  and  you 
will  obtain  them.  Thus  we  see  that  this  vir- 
tue is  an  imitation  of  the  divine  power  ; for, 
says  St.  Bernard,  nothing  so  manifests  the 
power  of  God  as  the  omnipotence  with  which 
He  invests  those  who  hope  in  Him.  Witness 
Josue,  at  whose  command  the  sun  stood  still ; 
or  Ezechiel,  who  bade  King  Ezechias  choose 
whether  he  would  have  the  sun  advance  or  go 
backward  in  his  course,  as  a sign  from  God. 

In  studying  the  inestimable  treasures  of  hope 
you  have  some  idea  of  one  of  the  blessings  of 
which  the  wicked  are  deprived.  AYhatever 
hope  remains  to  them  is  dead  ; destroyed  by 
sin,  it  can  produce  none  of  the  glorious  fruits 
we  have  been  considering.  Distrust  and  fear 
as  inevitably  accompany  a bad  conscience  as  the 
shadow  does  the  body.  Hence  the  happiness 
of  the  sinner  is  the  measure  of  his  hope.  He 
sets  his  heart  upon  the  vanities  and  follies  of 
the  world  ; he  rejoices  in  them ; he  glories  in 


176 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


them  ; and  in  them  he  hopes  in  the  time  of 
affliction.  It  is  of  such  hope  that  God  speaks 
when  He  says  : “ The  hope  of  the  wicked  is  as 
dust,  which  is  blown  away  with  the  winds,  and 
as  a thin  froth  which  is  dispersed  by  the  storm; 
and  a smoke  which  is  scattered  abroad  by  the 
wind.”  * Can  you  imagine  a weaker  or  a vainer 
confidence  than  this  ? But  it  is  not  only  vain, 
it  is  deceptive  and  injurious.  “ Woe  to  them 
that  go  down  to  Egypt  for  help,  trusting  in 
horses,  and  putting  their  confidence  in  chariots, 
because  they  are  many ; and  in  horsemen,  be- 
cause they  are  very  strong;  and  have  not  trusted 
in  the  Holy  One  of  Israel,  and  have  not  sought 
after  the  Lord.  Egypt  is  man,  and  not  God  ; 
and  their  horses  flesh,  and  not  spirit ; and  the 
Lord  shall  put  down  His  hand,  and  the  helper 
shall  fall,  and  he  that  is  helped  shall  fall,  and 
they  shall  all  be  confounded  together.”  f 

Behold,  dear  Christian,  the  difference  be- 
tween the  hope  of  the  just  and  the  hope  of  the 
wicked.  One  is  of  the  flesh,  the  other  of  the 
spirit ; one  is  centred  in  man,  the  other  in  God. 
And  even  as  God  exceeds  man,  so  does  the  hope 
of  the  just  exceed  that  of  the  sinner.  There- 
fore, the  prophet  exhorts  us:  “Put  not  your 
trust  in  princes ; in  the  children  of  men,  in 
whom  there  is  no  salvation.  Blessed  is  he  who 
hath  the  God  of  Jacob  for  his  helper,  whose 
hope  is  in  the  Lord  his  God;  Who  made  heaven 
and  earth,  the  sea,  and  all  things  that  are  in 
them.”  I “ Some  trust  in  chariots,  and  some  in 
horses ; but  we  will  call  upon  the  name  of  the 

* Wisdom  v.  15.  + Isaias  xxxi.  1,  3.  X Ps.  cxlv.  3,  5,  6. 


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177 


Lord  our  God.  They  are  bound,  and  have  fall- 
en ; but  we  are  risen,  and  are  set  upright/’  * 
Thus  we  see  that  our  hopes  are  realized  accord- 
ing to  that  upon  which  they  rest — in  ruin  and 
destruction,  or  in  honor  and  victory. 

Therefore,  he  whose  hope  is  fixed  upon  the 
things  of  this  world  is  rightly  compared  to  the 
man  in  the  Gospel  who  built  his  house  upon  the 
sand  and  beheld  it  beaten  down  by  the  rain 
and  winds  ; while  he  whose  hope  is  fixed  upon 
the  things  of  Heaven  is  like  the  man  whose 
house  was  built  upon  a rock,  and  which  stood 
unshaken  amidst  the  storms,  f “Cursed  be 
he,”  cries  out  the  prophet,  “ that  trusteth  in 
man,  and  maketh  flesh  his  arm,  and  whose  heart 
departeth  from  the  Lord.  For  he  shall  be  like 
tamaric  J in  the  desert,  and  he  shall  not  see 
when  good  shall  come ; but  he  shall  dwell  in 
dryness  in  the  desert,  in  a salt  land  and  not  in- 
habited. But  blessed  be  the  man  that  trusteth 
in  the  Lord,  and  the  Lord  shall  be  his  confi- 
dence ; and  he  shall  be  as  a tree  that  is  plant- 
ed by  the  waters,  that  spreadeth  out  its  roots 
towards  moisture  ; and  it  shall  not  fear  when 
the  heat  cometh.  And  the  leaf  thereof  shall 
be  green,  and  in  the  time  of  drought  it  shall 
not  be  solicitous,  neither  shall  it  cease  at  any 
time  to  bring  forth  fruit.”  § 

Can  there  be  any  misery  compared  to  life 
without  hope  ? To  live  without  hope  is  to  live 
without  God.  If  this  support  be  taken  from 
man,  what  remains  for  him  ? There  is  no  na- 


* Pb.  xix.  8,  9. 


t St.  Matt.  vii. 

§ Jer.  xvii.  5-9. 


$ A barren  shrub. 


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tion,  however  barbarous,  that  has  not  some 
knowledge  of  a god  whom  they  worship  and  in 
whom  they  hope.  When  Moses  was  absent  for  a 
short  time  from  the  children  of  Israel  they  ima- 
gined themselves  without  God,  and  in  their  igno- 
rance they  besought  Aaron  to  give  them  a god, 
for  they  feared  to  continue  without  one.  Thus 
we  see  that  human  nature,  though  ignorant  of 
the  true  God,  instinctively  acknowledges  the  ne- 
cessity of  a Supreme  Being,  and,  recognizing  its 
own  weakness,  turns  to  God  for  assistance  and 
support.  As  the  ivy*  clings  to  a tree,  and  as 
woman  naturally  depends  on  man,  so  human 
nature  in  it^weakness  and  poverty  seeks  the 
protection  and  assistance  of  God.  How^deplo- 
rable,  then,  is  the  condition  of  those  who  de- 
pri^themselves  of  His  support ! Whither  pan 
they  turn  for  comfort  in  trials,  for  relief  in 
sickness  ? Of  whpm  will  they  seek  protection 
in  dangers,  counsel  in  difficulties  ? If  the  body 
cannot  live  without  the  soul,  how  can  the  soul 
live  without  God  ? If  hope,  as  we  have  said, 
be  the  anchor  of  life,  how  can  we  trust  our- 
selves without  it  on  the  stormy  sea  of  the 
world  ? If  hope  be  our  buckler,  how  can  we 
go  without  it  into  the  midst  of  our  foes  ? 

What  we  have  said  must  sufficiently  show  us 
that  an  infinite  distance  separates  the  hope  of 
the  just  from  that  of  the  wicked.  The  hope  of 
the  just  man  is  in  God,  and  that  of  the  wicked 
is  in  the  staff  of  Egypt,  which  breaks  and 
wounds  the  hand  which  sought  its  support. 
For  when  man  leans  upon  such  a reed  God 
wishes  to  make  him  sensible  of  his  error  by 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


179 


the  sorrow  and  shame  of  his  fall.  We  have  an 
example  of  this  in  God’s  treatment  of  Moab  : 
“ Because  thou  hast  trusted  in  thy  bulwarks, 
and  in  thy  treasures,  thou  also  shalt  be  taken  : 
and  Chamos  * shall  go  into  captivity,  his  priests, 
and  his  princes  together.”  f Consider  what  a 
support  thaf  is  which  brings  ruin  upon  those 
who  invoke  it. 

Behold,  then,  dear  Christian,  how  great  is 
this  privilege  of  hope,  which,  though  it  appear 
one  with  the  special  providence  of  which  we 
have  been  treating,  differs  from  it,  neverthe- 
less^'as  the  effect  differs  from  the  cause.  For 
though  the  hope  of  the  just  proceeds  from 
several  causes,  such  as  the  goodness  of  God, 
*the  truth  of  His  promises,  the  merits  of  Christ, 
yet  its  principal  foundation  is  this ? paternal 
providence.  It  is  this  which  excites  ou^  hope; 
for  who  could  fail  in  confidence/ knowing  the 
fatherly  care  that  God  has  for  us  all  ? 


CHAPTER  XVIII. 

THE  SEVENTH  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  : THE 
TRUE  LIBERTY  OF  THE  JUST. 

FROM  the  privileges  we  have  been  consider- 
ing, but  particularly  from  the  graces  of 
the  Holy  Spirit  and  His  divine  consola- 
tions, there  arises  a seventh,  though  no 
less  marvellous,  privilege,  which  is  true  liberty 

* The  god  of  the  Moabites.  t Jer.  xlviii.  7. 


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The  Sinner's  Guide . 


of  the  soul.  The  Son  of  God  brought  this 
gift  to  men;  hence  He  is  called  the  Redeemer, 
or  Deliverer,  for  He  freed  mankind  from  the 
slavery  of  sin,  and  restored  them  to  the  true 
liberty  of  the  children  of  God.  This  is  one  of 
the  greatest  of  God’s  favors,  one  of  the  most 
signal  benefits  of  the  Gospel,  and*one  of  the 
principal  effects  of  the  Holy  Ghost.  “ Where 
the  Spirit  of  the  Lord  is,  there  is  liberty.”* 
This  liberty  is  one  of  the  most  magnificent  re- 
wards which  God  has  promised  to  His  servants 
in  this  life  : “ If  you  continue  in  My  word, 
you  shall  be  My  disciples  indeed.  And  you 
shall  know  the  truth,  and  the  truth  shall  make 
you  free.”  To  this  the  Jews  answered  : “We 
are  the  seed  of  Abraham,  and  we  have  never 
been  slaves  to  any  man;  how  sayest  Thou:  You 
shall  be  free?  Jesus  answered  them:  Amen, 
amen  I say  unto  you,  that  whosoever  commit- 
teth  sin  is  the  servant  of  sin.  How  the  servant 
abideth  not  in  the  house  for  ever  ; but  the  son 
abideth  for  ever.  If,  therefore,  the  son  shall 
make  you  free,  you  shall  be  free  indeed.”  f 
Our  Saviour  teaches  us  by  these  words  that 
there  are  two  kinds  of  liberty.  The  first  is  the 
liberty  of  those  who  are  doubtless  free  in  body, 
but  whose  souls  are  enslaved  by  sin,  as  Alexan- 
der the  Great,  who,  though  master  of  the  world, 
was  a slave  to  his  own  vices.  The  second  is 
that  true  liberty  which  is  the  portion  of  those 
whose  souls  are  free  from  the  bondage  of  sin, 
though  their  bodies  may  be  held  in  chains. 
Witness  the  great  Apostle,  whose  mind,  despite 

* 2 Cot.  iii.  17.  + St.  John  viii.  31-37. 


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181 


his  fetters,  soared  to  Heaven,  and  whose  preach- 
ing and  doctrine  freed  the  world.  To  such  a 
condition  we  unhesitatingly  give  the  glorious 
name  of  liberty.  For  the  noblest  part  of  man 
is  the  soul ; in  a measure  it  constitutes  man. 
The  body  is  merely  matter  vivified  by  the  soul. 
Hence,  only  he  whose  soul  is  at  liberty  is  truly 
free,  and  he  whose  soul  is  in  bondage,  however 
free  his  body  may  be,  possesses  only  the  sem- 
blance of  liberty. 

Now,  the  sinner  is  in  bondage  under  sin,  the 
most  cruel  of  tyrants.  The  torments  of  hell 
are  but  the  effects  of  sin ; consider,  then,  how 
horrible  sin  itself  must  be.  It  is  to  this  cruel 
tyrant  that  the  wicked  are  enslaved,  for  our 
Saviour  tells  us:  “ Whosoever  committeth  sin  is 
the  servant  of  sin.”  * Nor  is  the  sinner  a slave 
to  sin  only,  but  to  all  that  incites  him  to  sin 
— that  is,  to  the  world,  the  devil,  and  the  flesh 
with  all  its  disorderly  appetites.  These  three 
powers  are  the  sources  of  all  sin,  and,  there- 
fore, are  called  the  three  enemies  of  the  soul, 
because  they  imprison  her  and  surrender  her 
to  a most  pitiless  master.  The  first  two  pow- 
ers make  use  of  the  flesh,  as  Satan  made  use  of 
Eve,  to  tempt  and  incite  us  to  every  kind  of 
iniquity.  Therefore,  the  Apostle  calls  flesh  sisr, 
giving  the  name  of  the  effect  to  the  cause,  for 
there  is  no  evil  to  which  man  is  not  incited  by 
the  flesh,  f For  this  reason  theologians  term  it 
fomes  peccati — that  is,  the  germ  and  fuel  of  sin  ; 
for,  like  wool  and  oil,  it  serves  to  feed  the  fire  of 
sin.  It  is  more  commonly  called  sensuality,  or 

* St.  John  viii.  34.  t Kom.  vii. 


182 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


concupiscence,  which,  to  speak  more  plainly,  is 
our  sensual  appetite.  Hence,  St.  Basil  tells  us 
that  our  desires  are  the  principal  arms  with 
which  the  devil  makes  war  upon  us  ; for,  carried 
away  by  the  immoderate  desires  of  the  flesh,  we 
seek  to  gratify  them  by  any  means  in  our  power, 
regardless  of  God’s  law.  From  this  disorder 
all  sin  arises. 

This  appetite  of  the  flesh  is  one  of  the  great- 
est tyrants  to  whom,  in  the  language  of  the 
Apostle,  the  sinner  has  made  himself  a slave. 
By  this  we  do  not  mean  that  the  sinner  loses 
his  free-will,  for  free-will  is  never  lost,  however 
great  the  multitude  of  his  crimes.  But  sin  so 
weakens  the  will,  and  so  strengthens  the  appe- 
tites of  the  flesh,  that  the  stronger  naturally 
prevails  over  the  weaker.  What  is  there  more 
painful  than  the  consequences  of  such  a victory  ? 
Man  possesses  a soul  made  to  the  image  of  God, 
a mind  capable  of  rising  above  creatures  to  the 
contemplation  of  God  ; yet  he  despises  ail  these 
privileges  and  places  himself  in  subjection  to 
the  base  appetites  of  a flesh  corrupted  by  sin 
and  incited  and  directed  by  the  devil.  What 
can  man  expect  from  such  a guidance,  or  rather 
from  such  a bondage,  but  innumerable  falls  and 
incomparable  misfortunes  ? 

Our  souls  may  be  considered  as  consisting  of 
two  parts,  which  theologians  call  the  superior 
and  the  inferior  part.  The  first  is  the  seat  of 
the  will  and  of  reason,  the  natural  light  with 
which  God  endowed  us  at  creation.  This  noble 
and  beautiful  gift  of  reason  makes  man  the 
image  of  God  and  capable  of  enjoying  God,  and 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


183 


raises  hi  in  to  a companionship  with  the  Angels. 
The  inferior  part  of  the  soul  is  the  seat  of  the 
sensual  appetites,  which  have  been  given  to  us 
to  aid  us  in  procuring  the  necessities  of  life  and 
in  preserving  the  human  race.  But  these  appe- 
tites are  blind — they  must  follow  the  guidance 
of  reason.  They  are  unfitted  to  command,  and, 
therefore,  like  good  stewards,  they  should  act 
only  in  obedience  to  their  master.  Alas  ! how 
often  do  we  see  this  order  reversed  ! How 
often  do  we  behold  the  servant  become  the 
master  ! 

How  many  men  are  so  enslaved  by  their  ap- 
petites that  they  will  outrage  every  law  of 
justice  and  reason  to  gratify  the  sensual  desires 
of  their  hearts  ! They  carry  their  folly  still 
farther,  and  make  the  noble  faculty  of  reason 
wait  upon  their  base  appetites  and  furnish  them 
with  means  to  attain  their  unlawful  desires. 
For  when  man  devotes  the  powers  of  his  mind 
to  the  invention  of  new  fashions  in  dress,  new 
pleasures  in  eating  ; when  he  strives  to  excel 
his  fellow-men  in  wealth  and  voluptuous  luxu- 
ries, does  he  not  turn  his  soul  from  the  noble 
and  spiritual  duties  suited  to  her  nature,  and 
make  her  the  slave  of  the  flesh  ? When  he  de- 
votes his  genius  to  the  composition  of  odes  and 
sonnets  to  the  object  of  a sinful  love,  does  he 
not  debase  his  reason  beneath  this  vile  passion  ? 
Seneca,  though  a pagan,  blushed  at  such  degra- 
dation, saying  : “I  was  born  for  nobler  things 
than  to  be  a slave  to  the  flesh.”*  Notwith- 
standing the  folly  and  enormity  of  this  disorder, 

* Epist.  65. 


184 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


it  is  so  common  among  us  that  we  give  it  little 
attention.  As  St.  Bernard  says:  “We  are  in- 
sensible to  the  odor  of  our  crimes,  because  they 
are  so  numerous.”  In  the  country  of  the  Moors 
no  one  feels  affronted  if  called  black,  because  it 
is  the  color  of  all  the  inhabitants.  So  where 
the  vice  of  drunkenness  prevails  no  one  thinks  it 
disgraceful  to  drink  to  excess,  notwithstanding 
the  degrading  nature  of  this  sin.  Yes,  the 
bondage  of  the  flesh  is  so  general  that  few  realize 
its  enormity.  How  complete,  therefore,  is  this 
servitude,  and  how  great  must  be  the  punish- 
ment reserved  for  one  who  delivers  so  noble  a 
creature  as  reason  into  the  hands  of  so  cruel  a 
tyrant!  It  is  from  this  slavery  that  the  Wise 
Man  prays  to  be  delivered  when  he  asks  that 
the  inordinate  desires  of  the  flesh  be  taken  from 
him,  and  that  he  be  not  given  over  to  a shame- 
less and  foolish  mind.* 

If  you  would  know  the  power  of  this  tyranny 
you  have  only  to  consider  the  evils  it  has 
wrought  since  the  beginning  of  the  world.  I 
will  not  set  before  you  the  inventions  of  the 
poets  on  this  subject,  or  the  example  of  their 
famous  hero,  Hercules,  who,  after  destroying  or 
subduing  all  the  monsters  of  the  world,  was 
himself  so  enslaved  by  the  love  of  an  impure 
woman  that  he  abandoned  his  club  for  a distaff, 
and  all  future  feats  of  valor,  to  sit  and  spin 
among  the  maidens  of  his  haughty  mistress.  It 
is  a wise  invention  of  the  poets  to  show  the 
arbitrary  power  this  passion  exercises  over  its 
victims.  Nor  will  I quote  from  Holy  Scripture 

* Ecclue.  xxiii.  6. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


185 


the  example  of  Solomon,  the  wisest  of  men,  en- 
slaved by  sensual  affections,  and  so  far  forget- 
ting the  true  God  as  to  build  temples  to  the 
idols  of  his  sinful  companions.  But  I will 
give  you  an  illustration  which,  alas  ! is  not  an 
uncommon  occurrence.  Consider,  for  instance, 
all  that  a married  woman  risks  by  abandoning 
herself  to  an  unlawful  love.  We  choose  this 
passion  from  among  the  rest  to  show  you  the 
strength  of  the  others.  She  cannot  but  know 
that  should  her  husband  discover  her  crime  he 
may  kill  her  in  his  anger,  and  thus  in  one  mo- 
ment she  will  lose  her  reputation,  her  children, 
her  life,  her  soul,  all  that  she  can  desire  in  this 
life  or  the  next.  She  knows,  moreover,  that 
her  disgrace  will  fall  upon  her  children,  her 
parents,  her  brothers,  her  sisters,  and  all  her 
race  ; yet  so  great  is  the  strength  of  this  pas- 
sion, or  rather  the  power  of  this  tyrant,  that  she 
tramples  all  these  considerations  under  foot  to 
obey  its  dictates.  Was  there  ever  a master 
more  cruel  in  his  exactions  ? Can  you  imagine 
a more  miserable,  a more  absolute  servitude  ? 

Yet  such  is  the  bondage  in  which  the  wicked 
live.  “They  are  seated  in  darkness  and  the 
shadow  of  death,”  says  the  prophet,  “hungry 
and  bound  with  chains.”  * What  is  this  dark- 
ness, if  not  the  deplorable  blindness  of  the 
wicked,  who  neither  know  themselves  nor  their 
Maker,  nor  the  end  for  which  they  were  created? 
They  see  not  the  vanity  of  the  things  upon 
which  they  have  set  their  hearts,  and  they  are 
insensible  to  the  bondage  in  which  they  live. 

* Ps.  cvi.  10. 


186 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


What  are  the  chains  which  bind  them  so  cruelly, 
if  not  the  ties  of  their  disorderly  affections  ? 
And  is  not  this  hunger  which  consumes  them 
the  insatiable  desire  for  things  which  they  can 
never  obtain  ? 

Not  unfrequently  the  gratification  of  man’s 
inordinate  desires,  so  far  from  satisfying  him, 
only  creates  other  more  violent  passions,  as  we 
learn  from  the  example  of  Amnon,  the  wicked 
son  of  David,  who  could  neither  eat  nor  rest 
because  of  his  love  for^  Thamar ; but  he  no 
sooner  obtained  possession  of  her  than  he  hated 
her  even  more  intensely  than  he  had  loved 
her.  * 

Such  is  the  condition  of  all  who  are  enslaved 
by  this  vice.  They  cease  to  be  masters  of  them- 
selves ; it  allows  them  no  rest ; they  can  neither 
think  nor  speak  of  anything  else  ; it  fills  their 
dreams  at  night ; and  nothing,  not  even  the 
fear  of  God,  the  interests  of  their  souls,  the  loss 
of  their  honor,  or  life  itself,  can  turn  them  from 
their  course  or  break  the  guilty  chains  which 
bind  them.  Consider  also  the  jealousy  and 
suspicions  with  which  they  are  tormented,  and 
the  dangers  of  body  and  soul  which  they  will- 
ingly risk  for  these  base  pleasures.  Was  there 
ever  a master  who  exercised  such  cruelty 
towards  a slave  as  this  tyrant  inflicts  upon  the 
heart  of  his  victims  ? Hence  we  read  that 
“wine  and  women  make  wise  men  fall  off.”f 
Most  fitly  are  these  two  passions  classed  to- 
gether, for  the  vice  of  impurity  renders  a man 
as  little  master  of  himself,  and  unfits  him  for 

* 2 Kings  xiii.  t Ecclus.  xix.  2. 


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187 


the  duties  of  life,  as  completely  as  if  robbed  of 
the  use  of  his  senses  by  wine.  The  great  Latin 
poet  admirably  paints  the  power  of  this  passion 
in  the  exampje  of  Dido,  Queen  of  Carthage. 
She  no  sooner  falls  in  love  with  iEneas  than  she 
abandons  the  care  of  public  affairs  ; the  walls 
and  fortifications. of  the  city  are  left  unfinished  ; 
public  works  are  suspended  ; the  youth  are  no 
longer  exercised  in  the  noble  profession  of  arms  ; 
the  harbors  are  left  defenceless,  and  the  city 
unprotected.  Enslaved  by  this  tyrannical  pas- 
sion, Dido  is  unfitted  for  the  duties  of  her  posi- 
tion ; all  the  powers  of  her  great  genius  are 
concentrated  upon  the  object  of  her  love.  Oh  ! 
fatal  passion  ! Oh  ! pestilential  vice,  destroying 
families  and  overthrowing  kingdoms  ! It  is 
the  poison  of  souls,  the  death  of  genius,  the 
folly  of  old  age,  the  madness  of  youth,  and  the 
bane  of  mankind. 

But  this  is  not  the  only  vice  which  reduces 
man  to  slavery.  Study  one  wTho  is  a victim  to 
pride  or  ambition,  and  see  how^  eagerly  lie 
grasps  at  honors,  how  he  makes  them  the  end 
of  all  his  actions.  His  house,  his  servants,  his 
table,  his  dress,  his  gait,  his  bearing,  his  prin- 
ciples are  all  fashioned  to  excite  the  applause 
of  the  world  ; his  vrords  and  actions  are  but 
baits  to  win  admiration.  If  we  wonder  at  the 
folly  of  the  Emperor  Domitian,  armed  with  a 
bodkin  and  spending  his  leisure  in  the  pursuit 
of  flies,  how  much  more  astonishing  and  piti- 
able it  is  to  see  a man  devote  not  only  his 
leisure  but  a lifetime  to  the  pursuit  of  worldly 
vanities  which  cannot  but  end  in  smoke  ! Be- 


188 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


hold  how  he  enslaves  himself  ! He  cannot  do 
his  own  will ; he  cannot  dress  to  please  him- 
self ; he  cannot  go  where  he  chooses ; nay, 
many  times  he  dares  not  enter  a church  or  con- 
verse with  virtuous  souls,  lest  His  master,  the 
world,  should  ridicule  him.  To  satisfy  l)is 
ambition  he  imposes  upon  himself  innumerable 
privations ; he  lives  above  his  income  ; he 
squanders  his  means ; he  robs  his  children  of 
their  inheritance,  and  leaves  them  only  the 
burden  of  his  debts  and  the  evil  example  of  his 
follies.  What  punishment  is  more  fitting  for 
such  madness  than  that  which  we  are  told  -a 
certain  king  inflicted  upon  an  ambitious  man, 
whom  he  condemned  to  be  executed  by  having 
smoke  poured  into  his  nostrils  till  he  expired, 
saying  to  the  unhappy  victim  that  as  he  had 
lived  for  smoke,  so  it  was  fit  that  he  should  die 
by  smoke  ? 

What  shall  we  say  of  the  avaricious  man, 
whose  money  is  his  master  and  his  god  ? Is  it 
not  in  this  idol  that  be  finds  his  comfort  and 
his  glory  ? Is  it  not  the  end  of  all  his  labors, 
the  object  of  his  hopes  ? For  it  does  he  hesi- 
tate to  neglect  body  and  soul,  to  deny  himself 
the  necessaries  of  life  ? Is  he  restrained  even 
by  the  fear  of  God  ? Can  such  a man  be  said 
to  be  master  of  his  treasures  ? On  the  contrary, 
is  he  not  their  slave  as  completely  as  if  he  were 
created  for  his  money,  and  not  his  money  for 
him  ? 

Can  there  be  a more  terrible  slavery  ? We 
call  a man  a captive  who  is  placed  in  prison  and 
bound  with  chains,  but  his  bondage  does  not 


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189 


equal  that  of  a man  whose  soul  is  the  slave  of 
an  inordinate  affection.  Such  a man  vainly 
thinks  himself  free,  but  no  power  of  his  soul 
enjoys  true  liberty ; his  free-will,  weakened 
by  sin,  is  the  only  possession  which  remains 
to  him.  It  matters  little  what  fetters  bind 
man,  if  the  nobler  part  of  his  soul  be  cap- 
tive. Nor  does  the  fact  that  he  has  volun- 
tarily assumed  these  chains  make  his  bondage 
less  real  or  less  ignominious.  The  sweetness 
of  a poison  by  no  means  diminishes  its  fatal 
effects. 

A man  who  is  the  slave  of  a passion  is  un- 
ceasingly tormented  by  desires  which  he  cannot 
satisfy  and  will  not  curt.  So  strong  is  the 
bondage  of  the  unhappy  victim  that  when  he 
endeavors  to  regain  his  liberty  he  meets  with 
such  resistance  that  frequently  he  despairs  of 
succeeding  and  returns  to  his  chains. 

If  these  miserable  captives  were  held  by  one 
chain  only,  there  would  be  more  hope  of  their 
deliverance.  But  how  numerous  are  the  fetters 
which  bind  them  ! Man  is  subject  to  many 
necessities,  each  of  which  excites  some  desire  ; 
therefore,  the  greater  the  number  of  our  inordi- 
nate desires  the  more  numerous  our  chains.  This 
bondage  is  stronger  in  some  than  in  others  : 
there  are  men  of  such  tenacious  disposition  that 
it  is  only  with  difficulty  they  reject  what  has 
once  taken  possession  of  their  imaginations. 
Others  are  of  a melancholy  temperament  and 
cling  with  gloomy  obstinacy  to  their  desires. 
Many  are  so  narrow-minded  that  the  most  in- 
significant object  cannot  escape  their  covetous- 


190 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


ness.  This  accords  with  the  saying  of  Seneca 
that  to  small  souls  trifles  assume  vast  propor- 
tions. Others,  again,  are  naturally  vehement  in 
all  their  desires  ; this  is  generally  the  character 
of  women,  who,  as  a philosopher  observes,  must 
either  love  or  hate,  for  it  is  difficult  for  them  to 
observe  a just  medium.  If  the  misery  of  serv- 
ing one  arbitrary  master  be  so  great,  what  must 
be  the  suffering  of  the  unhappy  man  who  is  en- 
slaved by  as  many  masters  as  there  are  ungov- 
erned affections  in  his  heart  ? If  the  dignity 
of  man  depend  upon  his  reason  and  free-will, 
what  can  there  be  more  fatal  to  this  dignity 
than  passion,  which  obscures  the  reason  and  en- 
slaves the  will  ? Without  these  powers  he  de- 
scends to  the  level  of  the  brute. 

From  this  miserable  slavery  the  Son  of  God 
has  delivered  us.  By  the  superabundant  grace 
of  God  we  have  been  redeemed;  by  the  sacrifice 
of  the  cross  we  have  been  purchased.  Hence 
the  Apostle  tells  us  that  “ our  old  man — bur 
sensual  appetite — is  crucified  with  Christ. ” * 
By  the  merits  of  His  crucifixion  we  have  been 
strengthened  to  subdue  and  crucify  our  ene- 
mies, inflicting  upon  them  the  suffering  which 
they  caused  us  to  endure,  and  reducing  to 
slavery  the  tyrants  whom  we  formerly  served. 
Thus  do  we  verify  the  words  of  Isaias  : “ They 
shall  make  them  captives  that  had  taken  them, 
and  shall  subdue  their  oppressors/’  f Before 
the  reign  of  grace  the  flesh  ruled  the  spirit  and 
made  it  the  slave  of  the  most  depraved  desires. 
But  strengthened  by  grace  the  spirit  rules  the 

* Eom.  vi.  6.  t Isaias  xiv.  2. 


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191 


flesh  and  makes  it  the  docile  instrument  of  the 
noblest  deeds. 

We  find  a forcible  illustration  of  this  defeat 
of  the  power  of  darkness  and  the  triumph  of 
truth  in  the  example  of  King  Adonibezec, 
whom  the  children  of  Israel  put  to  death  after 
cutting  off  his  fingers  and  toes.  In  the  midst 
of  his  suffering  the  unhappy  king  exclaimed  : 
“ Seventy  kings  having  their  fingers  and  their 
toes  cut  off  gathered  up  the  leavings  of  the 
meat  under  my  table ; as  I have  done,  so  God 
hath  requited  me.”*  This  cruel  tyrant  is  a fig- 
ure of  the  prince  of  this  world,  who  has  disabled 
the  children  of  God  by  robbing  them  of  the 
use  of  their  noblest  faculties,  and  thus  render- 
ing them  powerless  to  do  any  good.  Keduced 
to  so  helpless  a condition,  he  throws  to  them 
from  the  store  of  his  vile  pleasures  what  are 
fitly  called  crumbs,  for  the  gratifications  which 
sin  brings  are  never  able  to  satisfy  the  appetites 
of  the  wicked.  See,  then,  that  even  of  the 
brutal  pleasures  for  which  they  bargained  with 
Satan  their  cruel  master  will  not  give  them  suffi- 
cient. Christ  came  and  by  His  Passion  over- 
came this  enemy  and  compelled  him  to  endure 
the  same  sufferings  which  he  had  inflicted  on 
others.  He  cut  off  his  members — that  is,  He  de- 
prived him  of  his  power  and  bound  him  hand 
and  foot.  Adonibezec,  the  Holy  Scriptures  tell 
us.  suffered  death  in  Jerusalem.  In  the  same 
city  our  Saviour  died  to  destroy  the  tyrant  sin. 
It  was  after  this  great  Sacrifice  that  men  learned 
to  conquer  the  world,  the  flesh,  and  the  devil. 

* Judges  i.  7. 


198 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


Strengthened  by  the  grace  which  Christ  has 
purchased  for  us,  neither  the  pleasures  of  the 
world  nor  the  power  of  Satan  can  force  them  to 
commit  a mortal  sin. 

You  will  ask,  perhaps,  what  is  the  source  of 
this  liberty  and  the  glorious  victory  which  it 
enables  us  to  gain.  After  God  its  source  is 
grace,  which,  by  means  of  the  virtues  it  nour- 
ishes in  us,  subdues  our  passions  and  compels 
them  to  submit  to  the  empire  of  reason.  Cer- 
tain men  are  said  to  charm  serpents  to  such  a 
degree  that,  without  injuring  them  or  lessening 
their  venom,  they  are  rendered  perfectly  harm- 
less. In  like  manner  grace  so  charms  our  pas- 
sions— the  venomous  reptiles  of  the  flesh — that, 
though  they  continue  to  exist  in  our  nature, 
they  can  no  longer  harm  us  or  infect  us  with 
their  poison. 

St.  Paul  expresses  this  truth  with  great  clear- 
ness. After  speaking  at  some  length  of  the 
tyranny  of  our  sensual  appetites  he  concludes 
with  the  memorable  words  : “ Unhappy  man 
that  I am,  who  will  deliver  me  from  the  body 
of  this  death  ?”  And  he  answers:  “ The 
grace  of  God  by  Jesus  Christ  our  Lord.”*  The 
body  of  death  here  mentioned  by  St.  Paul  is 
not  the  natural  death  of  the  body  which  all 
must  undergo,  but  “ the  body  of  sin  ” f — our 
sensual  appetites,  the  fruitful  source  of  all 
our  miseries.  These  are  the  tyrants  from 
which  the  grace  of  God  delivers  us. 

A second  source  of  this  liberty  is  the  joy  of  a 
good  conscience  and  the  spiritual  consolations 

* Rom.  vii.  24,  25.  t Rom.  vi.  6. 


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193 


experienced  by  the  just.  These  so  satisfy 
man’s  thirst  for  happiness  that  he  can  easily 
resist  the  grosser  pleasures  of  the  flesh.  Hav- 
ing found  the  fountain  of  all  happiness,  he  de- 
sires no  other  pleasures.  As  our  Saviour  Him- 
self declared,  “ Whoever  will  drink  of  the  water 
that  He  will  give  him  shall  thirst  no  more/’* 
St.  Gregory  thus  develops  this  text  : He  who 
has  experienced  the  sweetness  of  the  spiritual 
life  rejects  the  objects  of  his  sensual  love.  He 
generously  disposes  of  his  treasures.  His  heart 
is  inflamed  with  a desire  for  heavenly  things. 
He  sees  but  deformity  in  the  beauty  which  for- 
merly allured  him.  His  heart  is  Ailed  with  the 
water  of  life,  and,  therefore,  he  has  no  thirst 
for  the  fleeting  pleasures  of  the  world.  He  finds 
the  Lord  of  all  things,  and  thus,  in  a measure, 
he  becomes  the  master  of  all  things,  for  in  this 
one  Good  every  other  good  is  contained. 

Besides  these  two  divine  favors  there  is  an- 
other means  by  which  the  liberty  of  the  just  is 
regained.  This  is  the  vigilant  care  with  wdiich 
the  virtuous  man  unceasingty  labors  to  bring 
the  flesh  under  the  dominion  of  reason.  The 
passions  are  thereby  gradually  moderated,  and 
lose  that  violence  with  which  they  formerly  at- 
tacked the  soul.  Habit  does  much  to  cause 
this  happy  change,  but  when  aided  and  con- 
firmed by  grace  its  effects  are  truly  wonderful. 
Accustomed  to  the  influence  of  reason,  our  pas- 
sions seem  to  change  their  nature.  They  are 
no  longer  the  fierce  assailants  of  our  virtue,  but 
rather  its  submissive  servants. 


* St.  John  iv.  13. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Hence  it  is  that  they  who  serve  God  very 
often  find  more  pleasure,  even  sensible  pleasure, 
in  recollection,  silence,  pious  reading,  medita- 
tion, prayer,  and  other  devout  exercises,  than 
ill  any  worldly  amusement.  In  this  happy 
state  the  work  of  subduing  the  flesh  is  ren- 
dered very  easy.  Weakened  as  it  is,  the  attacks 
it  makes  on  us  serve  only  as  occasions  of  new 
conquests  and  new  merits.  Nevertheless  the 
ease  with  which  we  win  these  victories  should 
not  disarm  our  prudence  or  render  us  less  vigi- 
lant in  guarding  the  senses  as  long  as  we  are 
on  earth,  however  perfectly  the  flesh  may  be 
mortified. 

These  are  the  principal  sources  of  that  mar- 
vellous liberty  enjoyed  by  the  just.  This  lib- 
erty inspires  us  with  a new  knowledge  of  God 
and  confirms  us  in  the  practice  of  virtue.  This 
we  learn  from  the  prophet  : “ They  shall  know 
that  I am  the  Lord  when  I shall  have  broken 
the  bonds  of  their  yoke,  and  shall  have  deliv- 
ered them  out  of  the  hand  of  those  that  rule 
over  them.”*  St.  Augustine,  who  experienced 
the  power  of  this  yoke,  says  : “I  was  bound  by 
no  other  fetters  than  my  own  iron  will,  which 
was  in  the  possession  of  the  enemy.  With  this 
he  held  me  fast.  From  it  sprang  evil  desires, 
and  in  satisfying  these  evil  desires  I contracted 
a vicious  habit.  This  habit  was  not  resisted, 
and,  increasing  in  strength  as  time  passed,  fin- 
ally became  a necessity,  which  reduced  me  to 
the  most  cruel  servitude.”  f When  a man  who 
lias  long  been  oppressed  by  the  bondage  under 

* Ezech.  xxxiv.  27.  t “ Conf./’  viii.  5. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


195 


which  St.  Augustine  groaned  turns  to  God, 
and  sees  his  chains  fall  from  him,  his  passions 
quelled,  and  the  yoke  which  oppressed  him  ly- 
ing at  his  feet,  he  cannot  but  recognize  in  his 
deliverance  the  power  of  God’s  grace.  Filled 
with  gratitude,  he  will  cry  out  with  the  prophet : 
“ Thou  hast  broken  my  bonds,  0 Lord  ! I will 
sacrifice  to  Thee  a sacrifice  of  praise,  and  I 
will  call  upon  the  name  of  the  Lord.”* 


CHAPTER  XIX. 

THE  EIGHTH  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  THE 
PEACE  ENJOYED  BY  THE  JUST. 

THE  liberty  of  the  children  of  God  is  the 
cause  of  another  privilege  of  virtue,  no 
less  precious  than  itself — the  interior  peace 
and  tranquillity  which  the  just  enjoy. 
To  understand  this  more  clearly  we  must  re- 
member that  there  are  three  kinds  of  peace  : 
peace  with  God,  peace  with  our  neighbor,  and 
peace  with  ourselves.  Peace  with  God  consists 
in  the  favor  and  friendship  of  God,  and  is  one 
of  the  results  of  justification.  The  Apostle, . 
speaking  of  this  peace,  says:  “ Being  justified, 
therefore,  by  faith,  let  us  have  peace  with  God 
through  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ.”  f Peace  with 
our  neighbor  consists  in  a friendly  union  with 
our  fellow-men,  which  banishes  from  us  all  ill- 
will  towards  them.  David  enjoyed  this  peace 

* Ps.  cxy.  7.  t Rom.  v.  1. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


when  lie  said  : “ With  them  that  hated  peace 
I was  peaceable;  when  I spoke  to  them  they 
fought  against  me  without  cause.”*  To  this 
peace  St.  Paul  exhorted  the  Romans:  “As 
much  as  is  in  you,  have  peace  with  all  men.”  f 
Peace  with  ourselves  is  the  tranquillity  arising 
from  a good  conscience,  and  the  harmony  ex- 
isting between  the  spirit  and  the  flesh  when  the 
latter  has  been  reduced  to  submission  to  the 
laws  of  reason. 

We  will  first  consider  the  agitation  and  anx- 
iety of  the  sinner,  in  order  more  keenly  to  ap- 
preciate the  blessing  of  holy  peace.  The  wick- 
ed hearken  to  the  flesh,  and,  therefore,  they  are 
never  free  from  the  disturbance  caused  by  the 
unceasing  and  insatiable  demands  of  their  pas- 
sions. Deprived  of  God’s  grace  which  can 
alone  check  their  unruly  appetites,  they  are  a 
prey  to  innumerable  desires.  Some  hunger  for 
honors,  titles,  and  dignities,  others  long  for 
riches,  honorable  alliances,  amusements,  or  sen- 
sual pleasures.  But  none  of  them  will  ever  be 
fully  satisfied,  for  passion  is  as  insatiable  as  the 
daughters  of  the  horse-leech,  which  continually 
cry  out  for  more  and  more.  J This  leech  is 
the  gnawing  desire  of  our  hearts,  and  its  daugh- 
ters are  necessity  and  concupiscence.  The  first 
is  a real  thirst,  the  second  a fictitious  thirst ; 
but  both  are  equally  disturbing.  Therefore,  it 
is  evident  that  without  virtue  man  cannot 
know  peace,  either  in  poverty  or  riches ; for  in 
the  former  necessity  allows  him  no  ease,  and 
in  the  latter  sensuality  is  continually  demand- 
* Pe.  cxix.  7.  t Rom.  xii.  18.  % Prov.  xxx.  15. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


197 


ing  more.  What  rest,  what  peace,  can  one  en- 
joy in  the  midst  of  ceaseless  cries  which  he 
cannot  satisfy  ? Could  a mother  know  peace 
surrounded  by  children  asking  for  bread  which 
she  could  not  give  them  ? 

This,  then,  is  one  of  the  greatest  torments 
of  the  wicked.  “ They  hunger  and  thirst,” 
says  the  prophet,  “and  their  souls  faint  within 
them.”*  Having  placed  their  happiness  in 
earthly  things,  they  hunger  and  thirst  for  them 
as  the  object  of  all  their  hope.  The  fulfilment 
of  desire,  says  Solomon,  is  the  tree  of  life,  f 
Consequently,  there  is  nothing  more  torturing 
to  the  wicked  than  their  unsatisfied  desires. 
And  the  more  their  desires  are  thwarted  the 
stronger  and  more  intense  they  become.  Their 
lives,  then,  are  passed  in  wretched  anxiety, 
constant  war  raging  within  them.  The  pro’di- 
gal  is  a forcible  illustration  of  the  unhappy  lot 
of  the  wicked.  Like  him,  they  separate  them- 
selves from  God  and  plunge  into  every  vice. 
They  abuse  and  squander  all  that  God  has  given 
them.  They  go  into  a far  country  where  fam- 
ine rages ; and  what  is  this  country  but  the 
world,  so  far  removed  from  God,  where  men 
hunger  with  desires  which  can  never  be  satis- 
fied, where,  like  ravenous  wolves,  they  are  con- 
stantly seeking  more  ? And  how  do  such  men 
understand  the  duties  of  life  ? They  recognize 
no  higher  duty  than  that  of  feeding  swine.  To 
♦satisfy  the  animal  within  them,  to  feed  their 
swinish  appetites,  is  their  only  aim.  If  you 
would  be  convinced  of  this  study  the  life  of 

* Ps.  evi.  5.  + Prov.  xiii,  12. 


198 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


a worldling.  From  morning  until  night,  and 
from  night  until  morning,  what  is  the  object  of 
his  pursuit  ? Is  it  not  the  gratification  of 
some  pleasure  of  sense,  either  of  sight,  of  hear- 
ing, of  taste,  or  of  touch  ? Does  he  not  act  as 
if  he  were  a follower  of  Epicurus  and  not  a 
disciple  of  Christ  ? Does  he  seem  to  be  con- 
scious that  he  possesses  any  faculty  but  those 
which  he  has  in  common  with  the  beasts  ? For 
what  does  he  live  but  to  enjoy  the  grossest 
pleasures  of  the  flesh  ? What  is  the  end  of  all 
his  revels,  his  feasts,  his  balls,  his  gallantry,  his 
luxurious  couches,  his  enervating  music,  his 
degrading  spectacles,  but  to  afford  new  delights 
to  the  flesh  ? Give  all  this  what  name  you  will 
— fashion,  refinement,  elegance — in  the  lan- 
guage of  God  and  the  Gospel  it  is  feeding 
swine.  For  as  swine  love  to  wallow  in  the 
mire,  so  these  depraved  hearts  delight  to  wallow 
in  the  mire  of  sensual  pleasures. 

But  what  is  most  deplorable  in  this  condi- 
tion is  that  a son  of  such  noble  origin,  born  to 
partake  of  the  Bread  of  Angels  at  God’s  owrn 
table,  would  feed  upon  husks  which  cannot 
even  satisfy  his  hunger.  In  truth,  the  world 
cannot  gratify  its  votaries.  They  are  so  nume- 
rous that,  like  swine  grunting  and  fighting  for 
acorns  at  the  foot  of  an  oak,  they  quarrel  and 
wrest  from  one  another  the  pleasures  and  grati- 
fications for  which  they  hunger. 

This  is  the  miserable  condition  which  David 
described  when  he  said:  “ They  wandered  in  a 
wilderness,  in  a place  without  water.  They 
were  hungry  and  thirsty  ; their  soul  fainted  in 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


199 


them.”  * A terrible  characteristic  of  this  hun- 
ger is  that  it  is  increased  by  the  gratifications 
which  are  meant  to  appease  it.  The  poisoned 
cup  of  this  world  kindles  in  the  hearts  of  the 
wicked  a fire  to  which  pleasures  only  add  re- 
newed heat.  Is  it  strange  that  they  are  con- 
sumed by  a burning  thirst  ? Unhappy  man  ! 
whence  is  it  that  you  thirst  so  cruelly,  if  it  be 
not  that  you  “ have  forsaken  the  fountain  of 
living  waters,  and  sought  broken  cisterns  which 
can  hold  no  water”  ?f  You  have  mistaken  the 
source  of  happiness.  You  wander  in  a wilder- 
ness, and,  therefore,  you  faint  with  hunger  and 
thirst.  When  Holofernes  besieged  Bethulia  he 
cut  off  the  aqueducts,  leaving  to  the  besieged 
but  a few  little  streams  which  served  only  to 
moisten  their  lips.  The  besieged  city  is  an 
image  of  your  condition.  You  have  cut  your- 
selves off  from  the  source  of  living  waters,  and 
you  find  in  creatures  the  little  springs  which 
may  moisten  your  lips,  but,  far  from  allaying 
your  thirst,  will  only  increase  it. 

The  blindness  and  vehemence  of  our  desires 
often  make  us  long  for  what  we  cannot  possibly 
obtain  ; and  when,  after  violent  efforts,  the  ob- 
ject of  our  pursuit  eludes  our  grasp,  anger  is 
added  to  our  disappointment,  and  both  combine 
to  throw  us  into  a state  of  confusion.  This 
gives  rise  to  that  internal  warfare  mentioned  by 
St.  James  when  he  asks  : “ Whence  are  wars 
and  contentions  among  you  ? Are  they  not 
from  your  concupiscences,  which  war  in  your 
members  ? You  covet,  and  have  not.”  J An- 

* Ps.  cvi.  4,  5.  t Jer.  ii.  13.  $ St.  James  iv.  1,  2. 


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other  lamentable  feature  of  this  condition  is 
that  very  often  when  men  have  attained  the 
summit  of  their  wishes  they  are  seized  with  a 
desire  for  some  other  worldly  advantage,  and  if 
their  caprice  be  not  gratified  all  they  possess  is 
powerless  to  comfort  them.  Their  unsatisfied 
desire  is  a continual  thorn.  It  poisons  alt  their 
pleasure. 

“ There  is  also  another  evil,”  says  Solomon, 
u which  I have  seen  under  the  sun,  and  which 
is  frequent  among  men.  A man  to  whom  God 
hath  given  riches,  and  substance,  and  honor, 
and  his  soul  wanteth  nothing  of  all  that  he  de- 
sireth  ; yet  God  doth  not  give  him  power  to 
eat  thereof,  but  a stranger  shall  eat  it  up.  This 
is  vanity  and  a great  misery.”  * Does  not  the 
Wise  Man  here  clearly  point  out  the  wretched 
condition  of  one  in  the  midst  of  abundance,  and 
yet  unhappy  because  of  his  unsatisfied  desires  ? 

If  such  be  the  condition  of  those  who  possess 
the  goods  of  the  world,  how  miserable  must  be 
the  lot  of  those  who  are  in  need  of  everything  ! 
For  the  human  heart  in  every  state  is  alike  sub- 
ject to  unruly  appetites,  is  alike  the  theatre  of 
a most  bitter  warfare  which  rages  among  its  op- 
posing passions.  When  these  importunate  de- 
sires are  unsatisfied  at  every  point,  the  misery 
of  their  victim  must  be  beyond  description. 

The  condition  of  the  wdcked  which  we  have 
been  considering  will  enable  us  by  contrast  to  set 
a true  value  on  the  peace  of  the  just.  Knowing 
how  to  moderate  their  appetites  and  passions, 
they  do  not  seek  their  happiness  in  the  plea- 

* Eccles.  yi.  1,  2. 


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201 


sures  of  this  life,  but  in  God  alone.  The  end 
of  their  labors  is  not  to  acquire  the  perishable 
goods  of  this  world,  but  the  enduring  treasures 
of  eternity.  They  wage  unceasing  war  upon 
their  sensual  appetites,  and  thus  keep  them  en- 
tirely subdued.  They  are  resigned  to  God’s  will 
in  all  the  events  of  their  lives,  and,  therefore, 
experience  no  rebellion  of  their  will  or  appe- 
tites to  disturb  their  interior  peace. 

This  is  one  of  the  principal  rewards  which 
God  has  promised  to  virtue.  “ Much  peace 
have  they  that  love  Thy  law,  and  to  them  there 
is  no  stumbling-block.”*  “Oh!  that  thou 
hadst  hearkened  to  My  commandments  ; thy 
peace  had  been  as  a river,  and  thy  justice  as 
the  waves  of  the  sea.”  f Peace  is  here  repre- 
sented by  the#  prophet  under  the  figure  of  a 
river,  because  it  extinguishes  the  fire  of  concu- 
piscence, moderates  the  ardor  of  our  desires, 
fertilizes  the  soil  of  our  heart,  and  refreshes 
our  soul.  Solomon  no  less  clearly  asserts  this 
same  truth : “ When  the  ways  of  man  shall 
please  the  Lord,  He  will  convert  even  his  ene- 
mies to  peace.”  J He  will  convert  his  ene- 
mies, the  sensual  appetites  and  passions,  to 
peace,  and  by  the  power  of  grace  and  habit 
He  will  subject  them  to  the  spirit.  Virtue 
meets  with  much  opposition  in  its  first  ef- 
forts against  the  passions,  but  as  it  begins 
to  be  perfected  this  opposition  ceases  and  its 
course  becomes  calm  and  peaceful.  The  truth 
of  this  is  most  keenly  realized  by  the  just  in 
their  practices  of  piety.  They  cannot  but  con- 

* Ps.  cxviii.  165.  + Isaias  xlviii.  18.  % Prov.  xvi.  7. 


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trast  their  present  peace  with  the  restless  fears 
and  jealousies  to  which  they  were  a prey  when 
they  served  the  world. 

Now  that  they  have  given  themselves  to  God 
and  placed  all  their  confidence  in  Him,  none  of 
these  alarms  can  reach  them.  Their  calm 
resignation  to  His  will  has  wrought  such  a 
change  in  them  that  they  can  hardly  believe 
themselves  the  same  beings.  In  truth,  grace 
has  transformed  them  by  creating  in  them  new 
hearts.  Can  we,  then,  be  surprised  that  such 
souls  enjoy  a peace  which,  the  Apostle  says, 
surpasses  all  understanding  ? 

He  who  enjoys  this  favor  cannot  but  turn  to 
the  Author  of  so  many  marvels  and  cry  out 
with  the  prophet:  “Come  and  behold  ye  the 
works  of  the  Lord,  what  wonders  He  hath  done 
upon  earth,  making  wars  to  cease  even  to  the 
ends  of  the  earth.  He  shall  destroy  the  bow, 
and  break  the  weapons  ; and  the  shields  He 
shall  burn  in  the  fire.”  * What,  then,  is  more 
beautiful,  more  worthy  of  our  ambition,  than 
this  peace  of  soul,  this  calm  of  conscience,  which 
is  the  work  of  grace  and  the  privilege  of  virtue  ? 
As  one  of  the  twelve  fruits  of  the  Holy  Ghost, 
peace  is  the  effect  of  virtue  and  its  inseparable 
companion.  It  is  one  of  those  blessings  which 
give  us  on  earth  many  of  the  joys  of  Heaven. 
For  the  Apostle  tells  us  : “ The  kingdom  of 
God  is  not  meat  and  drink  ; but  justice,  and 
peace,  and  joy  in  the  Holy  Ghost.”  f Accord- 
ing to  the  Hebrew  version,  justice  here  means 
the  perfection  of  virtue,  which,  together  with 

* Ps  xlv.  9,  10.  t Rom.  xiv.  17. 


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203 


its  beautiful  fruits,  peace  and  joy,  gives  the  just 
a foretaste  of  eternal  happiness.  If  you  would 
have  still  farther  proof  that  this  peace  flows 
from  virtue,  hear  the  words  of  the  prophet : 
“The  work  of  justice  shall  be  peace,  and  the 
service  of  justice  quietness  and  security  for 
ever/5*  A second  cause  of  this  peace  is  the 
liberty  which  the  just  enjoy.  This  liberty  is 
gained  by  the  triumph  of  the  nobler  part  of  the 
soul  over  the  inferior  appetites,  which,  after  they 
have  been  subjugated,  are  easily  prevented  from 
causing  any  disturbance.  The  great  spiritual 
consolations  which  we  considered  in  a preceding 
chapter  form  another  source  of  this  peace. 
They  soothe  the  affections  and  appetites  of  the 
flesh  by  making  them  content  to  share  in  the 
joys  of  the  spirit,  which  they  afterwards  begin 
to  relish  as  the  sovereign  sweetness  of  God  be- 
comes better  known.  Seeking,  therefore,  no 
other  delights,  they  are  never  disappointed,  and 
consequently  never  feel  the  attacks  of  anger. 
The  happy  result  of  all  this  is  the  reign  of  peace 
in  the  soul. 

Finally,  this  great  privilege  proceeds  from  the 
just  man’s  confidence  in  God,  which  is  his  com- 
fort in  all  trials  and  his  anchor  in  all  storms. 
He  knows  that  God  is  his  Father,  his  Defender, 
his  Shield.  Hence,  he  can  say  with  the  prophet : 
“In  peace  in  the  self-same  I will  sleep  and  I 
will  rest;  for  Thou,  0 Lord  ! hast  singularly 
settled  me  in  hope.”f 

*I$aiasxxxii.  17. 


t Ps.  iv.  9,  10. 


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CHAPTER  XX. 

THE  NIOTH  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  : THE  MAN- 
NER I NT  WHICH  GOD  HEARS  THE  PRAYERS 
OF  THE  JUST. 

TO  comprehend  what  we  are  about  to  say  upon 
this  subject  you  must  remember  that  there 
have  been  two  universal  deluges,  one  ma- 
terial, the  other  moral.  The  former  took 
place  in  the  time  of  Noe  and  destroyed  every 
thing  in  the  world  but  the  ark  and  what  it  con-  j 
tained.  The  moral  deluge,  much  greater  and 
more  fatal  than  the  material,  arose  from  the  sin 
of  our  first  parents.  Unlike  the  flood  in  the  j 
days  of  Noe,  it  affected  not  only  Adam  and 
Eve,  its  guilty  cause,  but  every  human  being. 

It  affected  the  soul  even  more  than  the  body.  \ 
It  robbed  us  of  all  the  spiritual  riches  and  su- 
pernatural treasures  which  were  bestowed  upon 
us  in  the  person  of  our  first  parent. 

From  this  first  deluge  came  all  the  miseries 
and  necessities  under  which  we  groan.  So 
great  and  so  numerous  are  these  that  a celebrat- 
ed doctor,  who  was  also  an  illustrious  pontiff, 
has  devoted  to  them  an  entire  work.*  Eminent 
philosophers,  considering  on  the  one  hand  man’s 
superiority  to  all  other  creatures,  and  on  the 
other  the  miseries  and  vices  to  which  he  is  sub- 
ject, have  greatly  wondered  at  such  contradic- 
tions in  so  noble  a creature.  Unenlightened 
by  revelation,  they  knew  not  the  cause  of  this 

* Innocent  IH.,  “ De  Vilitate  Conditionis  Humanae.” 


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205 


discord.  They  saw  that  of  all  animals  man  had 
most  infirmities  of  body  ; that  he  alone  was  tor- 
mented by  ambition,  by  avarice,  by  a desire  to 
prolong  his  life,  by  a strange  anxiety  concern- 
ing his  burial,  and,  as  it  appeared  to  them,  by 
a still  stranger  anxiety  concerning  his  condition 
after  death.  In  fine,  they  saw  that  he  was  sub- 
ject to  innumerable  accidents  and  miseries  of 
body  and  soul,  and  condemned  to  earn  his 
bread  by  the  sweat  of  his  brow. 

His  wretchedness  was  briefly  but  forcibly 
described  by  Job  when  he  said  that  “the  life 
of  man  upon  earth  is  a warfare  ; and  his  days 
are  like  the  days  of  a hireling  ” * Many  of  the 
ancient  philosophers  were  so  impressed  with 
this  truth  that  they  doubted  whether  nature 
should  not  be  called  a step-mother  rather  than 
a mother,  so  great  are  the  miseries  to  which  she 
! subjects  us.  Others  argued  that  it  would  be 
I better  never  to  be  born,  or  to  die  immediately 
after  birth.  And  some  have  said  that  few  would 
i accept  life  could  they  have  any  experience  of  it 
before  it  was  offered  them. 

Reduced  to  this  miserable  condition,  and  de- 
prived of  our  possessions  by  the  first  deluge, 

1 what  resource,  what  remedy,  has  been  left  us  by 
the  Master  who  has  punished  us  so  severely  ? 
There  is  but  one  remedy  for  us,  and  that  is  to 
have  recourse  to  Him,  crying  out  with  the  holy 
king  Josaphat  : “We  know  not  what  to  do  ; 
we  can  only  turn  our  eyes  to  Thee.”  f Eze- 
chias,  powerful  monarch  though  he  was,  knew 
that  this  was  his  only  refuge,  and  therefore  de- 

* Job  vii.  1.  t2  Paral.  xx.  12. 


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The  Sinner's  Guide . 


dared  that  he  would  cry  to  God  like  a swal- 
low and  would  moan  before  Him  as  a dove.* 
And  David,  though  a still  greater  monarch, 
placed  all  his  confidence  in  this  heavenly  suc- 
cor. Inspired  with  the  same  sentiment,  he 
exclaimed  : 66 1 cried  to  Thee,  Lord,  with  my 
voice  ; to  God  with  my  voice,  and  He  gave  ear 
to  me.  In  the  day  of  my  trouble  I sought 
God,  with  my  hands  lifted  up  to  Him  in  the 
night,  and  I was  not  deceived.  ” f Thus  when 
all  other  avenues  of  hope  were  closed  against 
him,  when  all  other  resources  failed  him,  he 
had  recourse  to  prayer,  the  sovereign  remedy 
for  every  evil. 

You  will  ask,  perhaps,  whether  this  is  truly 
the  sovereign  remedy  for  every  evil.  As  this 
depends  solely  upon  the  will  of  God,  they  alone 
can  answer  it  who  have  been  instructed  in  the 
secrets  of  His  will — the  Apostles  and  Prophets. 
“ There  is  no  other  nation  so  great,  that  hath 
gods  so  nigh  them,  as  our  God  is  present  to  all 
our  petitions/5  J These  are  the  words  of  God 
Himself,  though  expressed  by  His  servant. 
They  assure  us  with  absolute  certainty  that  our 
prayers  are  not  addressed  in  vain,  that  God  is 
invisibly  present  with  us  to  receive  every  sigh 
of  our  soul,  to  compassionate  our  miseries,  and 
to  grant  us  what  we  ask,  if  it  be  for  our  welfare. 
What  is  there  more  consoling  in  prayer  than 
this  guarantee  of  God’s  assistance  ? But  still 
more  reassuring  are  the  promises  of  God  Him- 
self in  the  Yew  Testament  where  He  tells  us  : 
“ Ask,  and  you  shall  receive  ; seek,  and  you  shall 

* Isaias  xxxviii.  14.  t Ps.  lxxvi.  1,2.  $ Deut.  iv.  7. 


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207 


find  ; knock,  and  it  shall  be  opened  to  you.”  * 
What  stronger,  what  fuller  pledge  could  we 
find  to  allay  our  doubts  ? 

Is  it  not  evident  that  this  is  one. of  the  great- 
est privileges  enjoyed  by  the  just,  to  whom 
these  consoling  words  are  in  a special  manner 
addressed?  “ The  eyes  of  the  Lord  are  upon  the 
just,  and  his  ears  unto  their  prayers.”  f “ Then 
shalt  thou  call,  and  the  Lord  shall  hear  ; thou 
shalt  cry,  and  He  shall  say  : Here  I am.”  J By 
the  same  prophet  God  promises  more — to  grant 
the  prayers  of  the  just  even  before  they  are  ad- 
dressed to  Him.  And  yet  none  of  these  pro- 
mises equal  those  of  our  Saviour  in  the  New 
Testament.  “If  you  abide  in  Me,”  He  says, 
“ and  My  words  abide  in  you,  you  shall  ask 
whatever  you  will,  and  it  shall  be  done  unto 
you.”  § “Amen,  amen  I say  to  you  : if  you 
ask  the  Father  anything  in  My  name,  He 
will  give  it  to  you.”  ||  Oh  ! promise  truly  wor- 
thy of  Him  Who  utters  it ! What  other  power 
could  offer  such  a pledge  ? Who  but  God  could 
fulfil  it  ? Does  not  this  favor  make  man,  in  a 
measure,  the  lord  of  all  things  ? Is  he  not 
thereby  entrusted  with  the  keys  of  Heaven  ? 
“ Whatsoever  you  shall  ask  ” — jwovided  it  lead 
to  your  salvation — “shall  be  given  to  you.” 
There  is  no  limitation,  no  special  blessing — all 
the  treasures  of  grace  are  offered  to  us.  Ah  ! 
if  men  knew  how  to  appreciate  things  at  their 
true  value,  with  what  confidence  would  these 
words  inspire  them  ! If  men  glory  in  possessing 

* St.  Matt.  vii.  7.  + Ps.  xxxiii.  16.  % Isaias  lviii.  9. 

§ St.  John  xv.  7.  11  St.  John  xvi.  23. 


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the  favor  of  an  earthly  monarch  who  places  his 
royal  power  at  their  disposal,  how  much  more 
reason  have  we  to  rejoice  in  the  favor  and  pro- 
tection of  the  King  of  kings  ! 

If  you  would  learn  how  such  promises  are 
fulfilled,  study  the  lives  of  the  Saints  and  see 
what  marvels  they  effected  by  prayer.  What 
did  not  Moses  accomplish  by  prayer  in  Egypt  ■'* 
and  throughout  the  journey  of  the  Israelites  in 
the  desert  ? How  wonderful  were  the  works  * 
of  Elias  and  his  disciple  Eliseus  ! Behold  the  \ 
miracles  which  the  Apostles  wrought  ! Prayer 
was  the  source  of  their  power.  It  is,  moreover,  ; 
the  weapon  with  which  the  Saints  have  fought 
and  overcome  the  world.  By  prayer  they  ruled 
the  elements,  and  converted  even  the  fierce  1 
flames  into  refreshing  dew.  By  prayer  they 
disarmed  the  wrath  of  God  and  opened  the 
fountains  of  His  mercy.  By  prayer,  in  fine, 
they  obtained  all  their  desires. 

It  is  related  that  our  holy  Father,  St.  Domi- 
nic, once  told  a friend  that  he  never  failed  to 
obtain  a favor  which  he  asked  from  God. 
Whereupon  his  friend  desired  him  to  pray  that 
a celebrated  doctor  named  Reginald  might  be- 
come a member  of  his  order.  The  saint  spent 
the  night  in  prayer  for  this  disciple,  and  early 
in  the  morning,  as  he  was  beginning  the  first 
hymn  of  the  morning  office,  Reginald  suddenly 
came  into  the  choir,  and,  prostrating  himself  at 
the  feet  of  the  saint,  begged  for  the  habit  of  his 
order.  Behold  the  recompense  with  which  God 
rewards  the  obedience  of  the  just.  They  are 
docile  to  the  voice  of  His  commandments,  and 


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209 


He  is  equally  attentive  to  the  voice  of  their 
supplications.  Hence  Solomon  tells  us  that 
“ an  obedient  man  shall  speak  of  victory.”  * 
How  differently  are  the  prayers  of  the  wicked 
answered  ! “ When  you  stretch  forth  your 

hands/’  the  Almighty  tells  them,  “ I will  turn 
away  my  eyes  from  you  ; and  when  you  multi- 
ply prayer  I will  not  hear.”  f “ In  the  time  of 
their  affliction/’  says  the  prophet,  “ they  will 
say  : Arise,  0 Lord  ! and  deliver  us.  But 
God  will  ask  : Where  are  thy  gods  whom  thou 
hast  made  thee  ? Let  them  arise  and  deliver 
thee.”  J “ X\  hat  is  the  hope  of  the  hypocrite, 
if  through  covetousness  he  takes  by  violence  ? 
Will  God  hear  his  cry  when  distress  shall  come 
upon  him?”§  “Dearly  beloved,”  says  St. 
John,  “if  our  heart  do  not  reprehend  us,  we 
have  confidence  towards  God  ; and  whatsoever 
we  shall  ask  we  shall  receive  of  Him,  because 
we  keep  His  commandments  and  do  those 
things  which  are  pleasing  in  His  sight.”  ||  “ If 

I have  looked  at  iniquity  in  my  heart,”  the 
Royal  Prophet  tells  us,  “ the  Lord  will  not  hear 
me”;  but  I have  not  committed  iniquity,  and 
“therefore  God  hath  heard  me,  and  attended  to 
the  voice  of  my  supplication.”  ^ 

It  would  be  easy  to  find  in  Holy  Scripture 
many  similar  passages,  but  these  will  suffice  to 
manifest  the  difference  between  the  prayers  of 
the  just  and  those  of  the  wicked,  and,  by"  con  se- 
quence, the  incomparable  privileges  which  the 
former  enjoy.  The  just  are  heard  and  treated 


* Prov.  xxi.  28. 
§ Job  xxvii.  8. 


t Isaias  i.  15.  $ Jer.  ii.  27,  28. 

II  1 St.  John  iii.  21, 22.  1 Ps.  lxv.  18, 19. 


210 


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as  the  children  of  God;  the  wicked  are  rejected 
as  His  enemies.  This  should  not  astonish  ns, 
for  a prayer  unsupported  by  good  works,  de- 
void of  fervor,  charity,  or  humility,  cannot  be 
pleasing  to  God.  Nevertheless,  the  sinner  who 
reads  these  lines  must  not  give  wav  to  dis- 
couragement. It  is  only  the  obstinately  wicked 
who  are  rejected.  It  is  only  those  who  wish  to 
continue  in  their  disorders  who  are  thus  cut  off. 
Though  your  sins  are  as  numerous  as  the  sands 
on  the  shore,  though  your  life  has  been  wasted 
in  crime,  never  forget  that  God  is  your  Father, 
that  He  awaits  you  with  open  arms  and  open 
heart,  that  He  is  continually  calling  upon  you 
to  return  and  be  reconciled  to  Him.  Have  the 
desire  to  change  your  life  ; be  resolved  to  walk 
in  the  path  of  virtue,  and  turn  to  God  in  hum- 
ble prayer,  with  unshaken  confidence  that  you 
will  be  heard.  “Ask,  and  you  shall  receive; 
seek,  and  you  shall  find ; knock,  and  it  shall 
be  opened  to  you.” 


CHAPTER  XXI. 

THE  TEXTH  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  I THE  COX- 
SOLATIOX  AXD  ASSISTAXCE  WITH  WHICH  GOD 
SUSTAIXS  THE  JUST  IX  THEIR  AFFLICTIOXS. 

AS  we  have  already  remarked,  there  is  no  sea 
more  treacherous  or  more  inconstant  than 
this  life.  No  man’s  happiness  is  secure 
from  the  danger  of  innumerable  accidents 
and  misfortunes.  It  is,  therefore,  important  to 


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211 


observe  how  differently  the  just  and  the  wicked 
act  under  tribulation.  The  just,  knowing  that 
God  is  their  Father  and  the  Physician  of  their 
souls,  submissively  and  generously  accept  as  the 
, cure  for  their  infirmities  the  bitter  chalice  of 
suffering.  They  look  on  tribulation  as  a file  in 
the  hands  of  their  Maker  to  remove  the  rust  of 
sin  from  their  souls,  and  to  restore  them  to 
their  original  purity  and  brightness.  They 
have  learned  in  the  school  of  the  Divine  Mas- 
ter that  affliction  renders  a man  more  humble, 
increases  the  fervor  of  his  prayers,  and  purifies 
his  conscience.  Now,  no  physician  more  care- 
fully proportions  his  remedies  to  the  strength 
of  his  patient  than  this  Heavenly  Physician, 
tempers  trials  according  to  the  necessities  of 
souls.  Should  their  burdens  be  increased  He 
redoubles  tlie  measure  of  their  consolations. 
Seeing  from  this  the  riches  they  acquire  by 
sufferings,  the  just  no  longer  fly  from  them,  but 
eagerly  desire  them,  and  meet  them  with  pa- 
tience and  even  with  joy.  They  regard  not  the 
labor,  but  the  crown  ; not  the  bitter  medicine, 
but  the  health  to  be  restored  to  them ; not  the 
pain  of  their  wounds,  but  the  goodness  of  Him 
who  has  said  that  He  loves  those  whom  He 
I chastises.* 

Grace,  which  is  never  wanting  to  the  just  in 
the  hour  of  tribulation,  is  the  first  source  of 
the  fortitude  which  they  display.  Though  He 
| seems  to  have  withdrawn  from  them,  God  is 
never  nearer  to  His  children  than  at  such  a 
time.  Search  the  Scriptures  and  you  will  see 

* Heb.  xii.  6. 


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that  there  is  no  truth  more  frequently  repeated 
than  this.  “ Call  upon  Me  in  the  day  of  trou- 
ble/5 says  the  Lord  ; “I  will  deliver  thee,  and 
thou  shalt  glorify  Me.”*  “ When  I called  upon 

the  Lord/5  David  sings,  “the  God  of  my  justice 
heard  me  ; when  I was  in  distress  Thou  hast 
enlarged  me.55  f 

Hence  the  calmness  and  fortitude  of  the  just 
under  suffering.  They  are  strong  in  the  pro- 
tection of  a powerful  Friend  who  constantly 
watches  over  them.  Witness  the  three  young 
men  who  were  cast  into  the  burning  furnace. 
God  sent  His  angel  to  accompany  them,  and 
“ He  drove  the  flame  of  the  fire  out  of  the  fur- 
mace,  and  made  the  midst  of  the  furnace  like 
the  blowing  of  a wind  bringing  dew,  and  the 
fire  touched  them  not,  nor  troubled  them,  nor 
did  them  any  harm.  . . . Then  iSTabucho- 
donosor  was  astonished,  and  rose  up  in  haste, 
and  said  to  his  nobles  : Did  we  not  cast  three 
men  bound  into  the  midst  of  the  fire  ? They 
answered  the  king  and  said : True,  0 king  ! 
He  answered  and  said  : Behold  I see  four  men 
loose,  and  walking  in  the  midst  of  the  fire,  and 
there  is  no  hurt  in  them,  and  the  form  of  the 
fourth  is  like  the  Sou  of  God.55  J Does  not 
this  teach  us  that  God5s  protection  never. fails 
the  just  in  the  hour  of  trial  ? 

A no  less  striking  example  is  that  of  Joseph, 
with  whom  God’s  protection  “ descended  into 
the  pit,  and  left  him  not  till  he  was  brought 
to  the  sceptre  of  the  kingdom  ; and  power 
against  those  that  had  oppressed  him,  and 

*Pe.  xlix.  15.  t Ps.  iv.  1.  X Dan.  iii. 


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213 


showed  them  to  be  liars  that  had  accused  him, 
and  gave  him  everlasting  glory.”  * Such  ex- 
amples prove  more  powerfully  than  words  the 
truth  of  God’s  promise,  “I  am  with  him  in  tri- 
bulation ; I will  deliver  him  and  I will  glorify 
him.”  f Oh!  happy  affliction  which  merits  for 
us  the  companionship  of  God!  Let  our  pray- 
ers, then,  be  with  St.  Bernard:  “ Give  me,  0 
Lord ! tribulations  through  life,  that  I may 
never  be  separated  from  Thee.”  J 

To  the  direct  action  of  grace  we  must  add 
that  of  the  virtues,  each  of  which,  in  its  own 
way,  strengthens  the  afflicted  soul.  When  the 
heart  is  oppressed  the  blood  rushes  to  it  to  fa- 
cilitate its  movement,  to  strengthen  its  action. 
So  when  the  soul  is  oppressed  by  suffering  the 
virtues  hasten  to  assist  and  strengthen  it. 
First  comes  Faith  with  her  absolute  assurance 
of  the  eternal  happiness  of  heaven  and  the 
eternal  misery  of  hell.  She  tells  us,  in  the 
words  of  the  Apostle,  “ that  the  sufferings  of 
time  are  not  worthy  to  be  compared  with  the 
glory  to  come  that  shall  be  revealed  in  us.Ӥ 
Next  comes  Hope,  softening  our  troubles  and 
lightening  our  burdens  with  her  glorious  pro- 
mises of  future  rewards.  Then  Charity,  the 
most  powerful  help  of  the  soul,  so  inflames  our 
will  that  we  even  desire  to  suffer  for  love  of 
Him  who  has  endured  so  much  for  love  of  us. 
Gratitude  reminds  us  that  as  we  have  received 
good  things  from  God,  we  should  also  be  will- 
ing to  receive  evil.  ||  Resignation  helps  us 

♦Wisdom  x.  13,  14.  + Ps.  xc.  15.  % Serm.  17 in  Ps.  xe. 

§ Rom.  viii.  18.  J Job  ii.  10. 


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recognize  and  cheerfully  accept  God’s  will  or 
permission  in  all  tilings.  Humility  bows  the 
heart  before  the  wind  of  adversity,  like  a young 
tree  swept  by  the  storm.  Patience  gives  us 
strength  above  nature  to  enable  us  to  bear  the 
heaviest  burden.  Obedience  tells  us  that  there 
is  no  holocaust  more  pleasing  to  God  than  that 
which  we  make  of  our  will  by  our  perfect  sub- 
mission to  Him.  Penance  urges  that  it  is  but 
just  that  one  wTho  has  so  often  resisted  God’s 
will  should  have  his  own  will  denied  in  many 
things.  Fidelity  pleads  that  we  should  rejoice 
to  be  able  to  prove  our  devotion  to  Him  who 
unceasingly  showers  His  benefits  upon  us.  Fin- 
ally, the  memory  of  Christ’s  Passion  and  the 
lives  of  the  Saints  show  us  how  trivial  our  suf- 
ferings are,  and  how  cowardly  it  would  be  to 
complain  of  them.  Yet,  among  all  the  virtues, 
hope  consoles  us  most  effectually.  “ Rejoice  in 
hope,”  says  the  Apostle  ; “be  patient  in  tribu- 
lation,” * thus  teaching  us  that  our  patience  is 
the  result  of  our  hope.  Again,  he  calls  hope  an 
anchor,  f because  it  holds  firm  and  steady  the 
frail  bark  of  our  life  in  the  midst  of  the  most 
tempestuous  storms. 

Strengthened  by  these  considerations  and  by 
God’s  unfailing  grace,  the  just  endure  tribula- 
tion not  only  with  invincible  fortitude,  but  even 
with  cheerfulness  and  gratitude.  They  know 
that  the  duty  of  a good  Christian  does  not  con- 
sist solely  in  praying,  fasting,  or  hearing  Mass, 
but  in  proving  their  faith  under  tribulation,  as 
did  Abraham,  the  father  of  the  faithful,  and 

* Rom.  xii.  12.  t Heb.  vi.  19. 


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215 


Job,  the  most  patient  of  men.  Consider  also  the 
example  of  Tobias,  who,  after  suffering  many 
trials,  was  permitted  by  God  to  lose  his  sight. 
The  Holy  Ghost  bears  witness  to  hi3  invincible 
patience  and  virtue.  “ Having  always  feared 
God  from  his  infancy,  and  kept  His  command- 
ments, he  repined  not  against  God  because  the 
evil  of  blindness  had  befallen  him,  but  con- 
tinued immovable  in  the  fear  of  God,  giving 
thanks  to  God  all  the  days  of  his  life.”  * We 
could  cite  numerous  examples  of  men  and  wo- 
men who  even  in  our  time  have  cheerfully  and 
lovingly  borne  cruel  infirmities  and  painful 
labors,  finding  honey  in  gall,  calm  in  tempest, 
refreshment  and  peace  in  the  midst  of  the  flames 
of  Babylon. 

But  we  feel  that  we  have  said  sufficient  to  prove 
that  God  consoles  the  just  in  their  sufferings, 
and  therefore  we  shall  next  consider  the  unfor- 
tunate condition  of  the  wicked  when  laboring 
under  affliction.  Devoid  of  hope,  of  charity, 
of  courage,  of  every  sustaining  virtue,  tribula- 
tion attacks  them  unarmed  and  defenceless. 
Their  dead  faith  sheds  no  ray  of  light  upon  the 
darkness  of  their  afflictions.  Hope  holds  out 
no  future  reward  to  sustain  their  failing  cour- 
age. Strangers  to  charity,  they  know  not  the 
loving  care  of  their  Heavenly  Father.  How 
lamentable  a sight  to  behold  them  swallowed 
in  the  gulf  of  tribulation  ! Utterly  defenceless, 
how  can  they  breast  the  angry  waves  ? How 
can  they  escape  being  dashed  to  pieces  against 
the  rocks  of  pride,  despair,  rage,  and  blasphe- 

* Tobias  ii.  13,  14. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


my  ? Have  we  not  seen  unhappy  souls  lose 
their  health,  their  reason,  their  very  life  in  the 
excess  of  their  misery  ? While  the  just,  like 
pure  gold,  come  out  of  the  crucible  of  suffering 
relined  and  purified,  the  wicked,  like  some 
viler  metal,  are  melted  and  dissolved.  While 
the  wicked  shed  bitter  tears,  the  just  sing  songs 
of  gladness.  “The  voice  of  rejoicing  and  of 
salvation  is  in  the  tabernacles  of  the  just,”  * 
while  the  habitations  of  sinners  resound  with 
cries  of  sorrow  and  despair. 

Observe,  moreover,  the  extravagant  grief  of 
the  wicked  when  those  they  love  are  taken  from 
them  by  death.  They  storm  against  Heaven  ; 
they  deny  God’s  justice  ; they  blaspheme  His 
mercy  ; they  accuse  His  providence  ; they  rage 
against  men ; and  not  unfrequently  they  end 
their  miserable  lives  by  their  own  hands.  Their 
curses  and  blasphemies  bring  upon  them  terri- 
ble calamities,  for  the  Divine  Justice  cannot 
but  punish  those  who  rebel  against  the  provi- 
dence of  God. 

Unhappy  souls  ! The  afflictions  which  are 
sent  for  the  cure  of  their  disorders  only  increase 
their  misery.  May  we  not  say  that  the  pains 
of  hell  begin  for  them  even  in  this  life  ? Con- 
sider, too,  the  loss  which  they  suffer  by  their 
murmurings  and  impatience.  No  man  can  es- 
cape the  trials  of  life,  but  all  can  lighten  their 
burden  and  merit  eternal  reward  by  bearing 
their  sorrows  in  patience.  Not  only  is  this  pre- 
cious fruit  lost  by  the  wicked,  but  to  the  load 
of  misery  which  they  are  compelled  to  carry 

* Ps.  cxvii,  15. 


Tlie  Sinner’s  Guide . 


217 


they  add  the  still  more  intolerable  burden  of 
their  impatience  and  rebellion.  They  are  like 
a traveller  who,  after  a long  and  weary  journey 
through  the  night,  finds  himself  in  the  morn- 
ing farther  than  ever  from  the  place  he  wished 
to  reach. 

What  a subject  is  this  for  our  contemplation  ! 
“ The  same  fire/’  says  St.  Chrysostom,  “ which 
purifies  gold  consumes  wood ; so  in  the  fire  of 
tribulation  the  just  acquire  new  beauty  and 
perfection,  while  the  wicked,  like  dry  wood,  are 
reduced  to  ashes.”*  St.  Cyprian  expresses  the 
same  thought  by  another  illustration  “ As  the 
wind  in  harvest  time  scatters  the  chaff  but 
cleanses  the  wheat,  so  the  winds  of  adversity 
scatter  the  wicked  but  purify  the  just.”  f The 
passage  of  the  children  of  Israel  through  the 
Bed  Sea  is  still  another  figure  of  the  same 
truth.  Like  protecting  walls  the  waters  rose 
on  each  side  of  the  people,  and  gave  them  a 
safe  passage  to  the  dry  land  ; but  as  soon  as 
the  Egyptian  army  with  its  king  and  chariots 
had  entered  the  watery  breach,  the  same  wTaves 
closed  upon  them  and  buried  them  in  the  sea. 
In  like  manner  the  waters  of  tribulation  are  a 
preservation  to  the  just,  while  to  the  wicked 
they  are  a tempestuous  gulf  which  sweeps  them 
into  the  abyss  of  rage,  of  blasphemy,  and  of 
despair. 

Behold  the  admirable  advantage  which  vir- 
tue possesses  over  vice.  It  was  for  this  reason 
that  philosophers  so  highly  extolled  philosophy, 
persuaded  that  its  study  rendered  man  more 

* Horn.  xiv.  in  Matt.  i.  t “ De  Unitate  Eccl.’ 


218 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


constant  and  more  resolute  in  adversity.  But 
this  was  one  of  their  numerous  errors.  True 
constancy,  like  true  virtue,  cannot  be  drawn 
from  the  teaching  of  worldly  philosophy.  It 
must  be  learned  in  the  school  of  the  Divine 
Master,  who  from  His  Cross  consoles  us  by  His 
example,  and  from  His  throne  in  Heaven  sends 
us  His  Spirit  to  strengthen  and  encourage  us 
by  the  hope  of  an  immortal  crown. 


CHAPTER  XXII. 

THE  ELEVENTH  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  : GOD’S 
CARE  FOR  THE  TEMPORAL  KEEDS  OF  THE 
JUST. 

THE  privileges  of  virtue  which  we  considered 
in  the  preceding  chapters  are  the  spiritual 
blessings  accorded  to  the  just  in  this  life, 
independently  of  the  eternal  reward  of 
Heaven.  As,  however,  there  may  be  some  who, 
like  the  Jews  of  old,  cling  to  the  things  of  the 
flesh  rather  than  to  those  of  the  spirit,  we  shall 
devote  this  chapter  to  the  temporal  blessings 
which  the  virtuous  enjoy.  The  Wise  Man  says 
of  wisdom,  which  is  the  perfection  of  virtue, 
that  “length  of  days  is  in  her  right  hand,  and 
in  her  left  hand  riches  and  glory/’  * Perfect 
virtue,  then,  possesses  this  double  reward  with 
which  she  wins  men  to  her  allegiance,  holding 
out  to  them  with  one  hand  the  temporal  bless- 
ings of  this  life,  and  with  the  other  the  eternal 

♦ Prov.  Hi.  16. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide • 


219 


blessings  of  the  life  to  come.  Oh  ! no  ; God 
does  not  leave  His  followers  in  want.  He  who 
so  carefully  provides  for  the  ant,  the  worm,  the 
smallest  of  His  creatures,  cannot  disregard  the 
necessities  of  His  faithful  servants.  1 do  not 
ask  you  to  receive  this  upon  my  word,  but  I 
do  ask  you  to  read  the  Gospel  according  to  St. 
Matthew,  in  which  you  will  find  many  assu- 
rances and  promises  on  this  subject.  “ Behold 
the  birds  of  the  air,”  says  our  Saviour,  “for 
they  neither  sow,  nor  do  they  reap,  nor  gather 
into  barns  ; and  your  Heavenly  Father  feedeth 
them.  Are  not  you  of  much  more  value  than 
they  ? ...  Be  not  solicitous,  therefore,  say- 
ing : What  shall  we  eat,  or  what  shall  we  drink, 
or  wherewith  shall  we  be  clothed  ? For  after 
all  these  things  do  the  heathen  seek.  For  your 
Father  knoweth  that  you  have  need  of  all  these 
things.  Seek  ye,  therefore,  first  the  kingdom 
of  God,  and  His  justice,  and  all  these  things 
shall  be  added  unto  you.”  * 

“Fear  the  Lord,  all  ye  His  saints,”  the 
Psalmist  sings,  “for  they  that  fear  Him  know 
no  want.  The  rich  have  wanted,  and  have  suf- 
fered hunger  ; but  they  that  seek  the  Lord  shall 
not  be  deprived  of  any  good.”  f “I  have  been 
young,  and  now  am  old,  and  I have  not  seen 
the  just  forsaken  nor  his  seed  seeking  bread.”  J 
If  you  would  satisfy  yourself  still  farther  con- 
cerning the  temporal  blessings  conferred  on  the 
just,  read  the  divine  promises  recorded  in  Deu- 
teronomy : “If  thou  wilt  hear  the  voice  of  the' 
Lord  thy  God,  to  do  and  keep  all  His  command- 

* Chap.  vi.  f Ps.  xxxiii.  10, 11.  $ Ps.  xxxvi.  25.. 


220 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


ments  which  I command  thee  this  day,  the  Lord 
thy  God  will  make  thee  higher  than  all  the  na- 
tions that  are  on  the  earth.  And  all  these 
blessings  shall  come  upon  thee  and  overtake 
thee,  if  thou  hear  His  precepts.  Blessed  shalt 
thou  be  in  the  city,  and  blessed  in  the  field. 
Blessed  shall  be  the  fruit  of  thy  womb,  and  the 
fruit  of  thy  ground,  and  the  fruit  of  thy  cattle, 
the  droves  of  thy  herds,  and  the  folds  of  thy 
sheep.  Blessed  shall  be  thy  barns  and  blessed 
thy  stores.  Blessed  shalt  thou  be  coming  in 
and  going  out.  The  Lord  shall  cause  thy  ene- 
mies that  rise  up  against  thee  to  fall  down  be- 
fore thy  face  ; one  way  shall  they  come  out 
against  thee,  and  seven  ways  shall  they  flee  be- 
fore thee.  The  Lord  will  send  forth  a blessing 
upon  thy  storehouses,  and  upon  all  the  works  of 
thy  hands,  and  will  bless  thee  in  the  land  that 
tliou  shalt  receive.  The  Lord  will  raise  thee  up 
to  be  a holy  people  to  Himself,  as  He  swore  to 
thee,  if  thou  keep  the  commandments  of  the 
Lord  thy  God  and  walk  in  His  ways.  And  all 
the  people  of  the  earth  shall  see  that  the  name 
of  the  Lord  is  invoked  upon  thee,  and  they  shall 
fear  thee.  The  Lord  will  make  thee  abound 
with  all  goods,  with  the  fruit  of  thy  womb,  and 
the  fruit  of  thy  cattle,  with  the  fruit  of  thy 
land  which  the  Lord  swore  to  thy  fathers  that 
He  would  give  thee.  The  Lord  will  open  His 
excellent  treasure,  the  heaven,  that  it  may  give 
rain  in  due  season ; and  He  will  bless  all  the 
works  of  thy  hands.”*  What  riches  can  be 
.compared  to  such  blessings  as  these  ? And 

*Deut.  xxviii.  1-13. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


221 


they  have  been  promised  not  only  to  the  Jews, 
but  to  all  Christians  who  are  faithful  to  God’s 
law.  Moreover,  they  are  bestowed  with  two  ex- 
traordinary advantages  unknown  to  the  wicked. 
The  first  of  these  is  the  wisdom  with  which 
God  awards  them.  Like  a skilful  physician  He 
gives  His  servants  temporal  blessings  according 
to  their  necessities,  and  not  in  such  measure  as 
to  inflate  them  with  pride  or  endanger  their 
salvation.  The  wicked  despise  this  moderation 
and  madly  heap  up  all  the  riches  they  can  ac- 
quire, forgetting  that  excess  in  this  respect  is  as 
dangerous  to  the  soul  as  excess  of  nourishment 
is  injurious  to  the  body.  Though  a man’s  life 
lies  in  his  blood,  too  copious  a supply  only 
tends  to  choke  him.  The  second  of  these  ad- 
vantages is  that  temporal  blessings  afford  the 
just,  with  far  less  disturbance  or  display,  that 
rest  and  contentment  which  all  men  seek  in 
worldly  goods.  Even  with  a little  the  just  en- 
joy as  much  repose  as  if  they  possessed  the  uni- 
verse. Hence  St.  Paul  speaks  of  himself  as 
having  nothing,  yet  possessing  all  things.* 
Thus  the  just  journey  through  life,  poor  but 
knowing  no  want,  possessing  abundance  in  the 
midst  of  poverty.  The  wicked,  on  the  contrary, 
hunger  in  the  midst  of  abundance,  and  though, 
like  Tantalus,  f surrounded  by  water,  they  can 
never  satisfy  their  thirst. 

* 2 Cor.  vi.  10. 

t Tantalus,  according  to  the  fable  of  the  aricients,  was  a king  of 
Corinth,  condemned  by  the  gods,  for  divulging  their  secrets,  to  be 
placed  in  hell  in  the  midst  of  water  which  reached  his  chin,  but 
which  he  could  not  even  taste ; to  have  fruit  suspended  over  his 
head  which  he  could  not  eat ; and  to  be  always  in  fear  of  a large 
stone  falling  on  his  hand. 


222 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


For  like  reasons  Moses  earnestly  exhorted  the 
people  to  the  observance  of  God’s  law.  “ Lay 
up  these  words  in  thy  heart/’  he  says  ; “ teach 
them  to  thy  children  ; meditate  upon  them 
sitting  in  thy  house,  walking  on  thy  journey, 
sleeping  and  rising.  Bind  them  as  a sign  upon 
thy  hand;  keep  them  before  thy  eyes;  write 
them  over  the  entrance  to  thy  house,  on  the 
doors  of  thy  house.  Do  that  which  is  pleasing 
and  good  in  the  sight  of  the  Lord,  that  it  may 
be  well  with  thee  all  the  days  of  thy  life  in  the 
land  which  God  shall  give  thee.”  * Having 
been  admitted  to  the  counsels  of  the  Most  High, 
Moses  knew  the  inestimable  treasure  contained 
in  the  observance  of  the  law.  His  prophetic 
mind  saw  that  all  temporal  and  spiritual  bless- 
ings, both  present  and  future,  were  comprised 
in  this.  It  is  a compact  which  God  makes  with 
the  just,  and  which,  we  may  feel  assured,  will 
never  be  broken  on  His  part.  Hay,  rather,  if 
we  prove  ourselves  faithful  servants  we  will 
find  that  God  will  be  even  more  generous  than 
His  promises.  “ Godliness,”  says  St.  Paul,  “is 
profitable  to  all  things,  having  promise  of  the 
life  that  now  is,  and  of  that  which  is  to  come.”  f 
Behold  how  clearly  the  Apostle  promises  to 
piety,  which  is  the  observance  of  God’s  com- 
mandments, not  only  the  blessings  of  eternity 
but  those  of  this  life  also. 

If  you  desire  to  know  the  poverty,  miseries, 
and  afflictions  which  are  reserved  for  the  wicked, 
read  the  twenty-eighth  chapter  of  the  Book  of 
Deuteronomy.  Therein  Moses,  in  the  name  of 

* Deut.  vi.  1 1 Tim.  iv.  8. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


223 


God,  utters  most  terrible  threats  and  maledic- 
tions against  the  impious.  “ If  thou  wilt  not 
hear  the  voice  of  the  Lord  thy  God,  to  keep  and 
to  do  all  His  commandments  and  ceremonies 
which  I command  thee  this  day,  all  these  curses 
shall  come  upon  thee  and  overtake  thee.  Cursed 
shalt  thou  be  in  the  city,  cursed  in  the  field. 
Cursed  shall  be  thy  barn,  and  cursed  thy  stores. 
Cursed  shall  be  the  fruit  of  thy  womb,  and  the 
fruit  of  thy  ground,  the  herds  of  thy  oxen,  and 
the  flocks  of  thy  sheep.  Cursed  shalt  thou  be 
coming  in  and  going  out.  The  Lord  shall  send 
upon  thee  famine  and  hunger,  and  a rebuke 
upon  all  the  works  which  thou  shalt  do,  until 
He  consume  and  destroy  thee  quickly  for  thy 
most  wicked  inventions,  by  which  thou  hast 
forsaken  Me.  May  the  Lord  set  the  pestilence 
upon  thee  until  He  consume  thee  out  of  the 
land  which  thou  shalt  go  in  to  possess.  May 
the  Lord  afflict  thee  with  miserable  want,  with 
the  fever  and  with  cold,  with  burning  and 
with  heat,  and  with  corrupted  air  and  with 
blasting,  and  pursue  thee  till  thou  perish.  Be 
the  heaven  that  is  over  thee  of  brass,  and  the 
ground  thou  treadest  on  of  iron.  The  Lord 
give  thee  dust  for  rain  upon  thy  land,  and  let 
ashes  come  down  from  heaven  upon  thee  till 
thou  be  consumed.  The  Lord  make  thee  fall 
down  before  thy  enemies  ; one  way  mayst  thou 
go  out  against  them,  and  flee  seven  ways,  and 
be  scattered  throughout  all  the  kingdoms  of  the 
earth.  And  be  thy  carcass  meat  for  all  the 
fowls  of  the  air  and  the  beasts  of  the  earth,  and 
be  there  none  to  drive  them  away.  The  Lord 


224 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


strike  thee  with  madness  and  blindness,  and 
fury  of  mind.  And  mayst  thou  grope  at  mid-day 
as  the  blind  is  wont  to  grope  in  the  dark,  and 
not  make  straight  thy  ways.  And  mayst  thou 
at  all  times  suffer  wrong,  and  be  oppressed  with 
violence,  and  mayst  thou  have  no  one  to  deliver 
thee.  May  thy  sons  and  thy  daughters  be  given 
to  another  people,  thy  eyes  looking  on,  and 
languishing  at  the  sight  of  them  all  the  day, 
and  may  there  be  no  strength  in  thy  hand. 
May  a people  which  thou  knowest  not  eat  the 
fruits  of  thy  land,  and  all  thy  labors,  and  mayst 
thou  always  suffer  oppression,  and  be  crushed  at 
all  times.  May  the  Lord  strike  thee  with  a 
very  sore  ulcer  in  the  knees  and  in  the  legs,  and 
be  thou  incurable  from  the  sole  of  thy  foot  to 
the  top  of  thy  head.  . . . And  all  these  curses 
shall  come  upon  thee,  and  shall  pursue  and  over- 
take thee,  till  thou  perish  ; because  thou  heardst 
not  the  voice  of  the  Lord  thy  God,  and  didst 
not  keep  His  commandments.  Because  thou 
didst  not  serve  the  Lord  thy  God  with  joy  and 
gladness  of  heart  for  the  abundance  of  all  things, 
thou  slialt  serve  thy  enemy  whom  the  Lord  will 
send  upon  thee,  in  hunger,  in  thirst,  and  naked- 
ness, and  in  want  of  ail  things ; and  he  shall 
put  an  iron  yoke  upon  thy  neck  till  he  con- 
sume thee.  The  Lord  will  bring  upon  thee  a 
nation  from  afar,  and  from  the  uttermost  ends 
of  the  earth,  a most  insolent  nation,  that  will 
show  no  regard  to  the  ancient,  nor  have  pity  on 
the  infant,  and  will  devour  the  fruit  of  thy 
cattle,  and  the  fruits  of  thy  land,  until  thou  be 
destroyed,  and  will  leave  thee  no  wheat,  nor 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


wine,  nor  oil,  nor  herds  of  oxen,  nor  flocks  of 
sheep,  till  he  consume  thee  in  all  thy  cities,  and 
thy  strong  and  high  walls  be  brought  down, 
wherein  thou  trustedst  in  all  thy  land.  Thou 
slialt  he  besieged  within  thy  gates,  and  thou 
shalt  eat  the  fruit  of  thy  womb,  and  the  flesh 
of  thy  sons  and  thy  daughters,  in  the  distress 
and  extremity  wherewith  thy  enemies  shall  op- 
press thee.”  Let  us  not  forget  that  these  male- 
dictions are  recorded  in  TIoly  Scripture,  with 
many  others,  equally  terrible,  which  we  have  not 
cited.  Learn  from  them  the  rigor  with  which 
Divine  Justice  pursues  the  wicked,  and  the 
hatred  God  must  bear  to  sin,  which  He  punishes 
with  such  severity  in  this  life  and  with  still 
greater  torments  in  the  next. 

Think  not  these  were  idle  menaces.  No  ; 
they  were  words  of  prophecy,  and  were  terribly 
verified  in  the  Jewish  nation.  For  we  read 
that  during  the  reign  of  Achab,  King  of  Israel, 
his  people  were  besieged  by  the  army  of  the 
king  of  Syria,  and  reduced  to  such  straits  that 
they  fed  upon  pigeons’  dung,  which  sold  at  a 
high  price,  and  that  a mother  devoured  her 
own  child.*  And  these  scenes,  the  historian 
Josephus  tells  us,  were  repeated  during  the 
siege  of  Jerusalem.  The  captivity  of  this  peo- 
ple and  the  complete  destruction  of  their  king- 
dom and  power  are  well  known  to  all. 

Think  not  that  these  calamities  were  reserv- 
ed for  the  Jewish  people  only.  Ail  the  nations 
that  have  known  God’s  law  and  despised  it 
have  been  the  objects  of  His  just  and  terrible 

* 4 Kings  vi. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


anger.  “ Did  not  I bring  up  Israel  out  of  the 
land  of  Egypt,  and  the  Palestines  out  of  Cappa- 
docia, and  the  Syrians  out  of  Cyrene  ? Behold 
the  eyes  of  the  Lord  God  are  upon  the  sinful 
kingdom,  and  I will  destroy  it  from  the  face  of 
the  earth.”  * From  this  we  can  understand 
that  wars  and  revolutions,  the  downfall  of 
some  kingdoms  and  the  rise  of  others,  are  due 
to  the  sins  of  men. 

Bead  the  annals  of  the  early  ages  of  the 
Church,  and  you  will  find  that  God  has  dealt  in 
like  manner  with  the  wicked,  especially  with 
those  who  were  once  enlightened  by  His  law, 
and  who  afterwards  rejected  it.  See  how  He 
has  punished  infidelity  in  Christian  nations. 
Vast  portions  of  Europe,  Asia,  and  Africa,  for- 
merly filled  with  Christian  churches,  are  now  in 
the  hands  of  infidels  and  barbarians.  Behold 
the  ravages  wrought  in  Christian  nations  by 
the  Goths,  the  Huns,  and  the  Vandals  ! In  the 
time  of  St.  Augustine  they  laid  waste  all  the 
countries  of  Africa,  sparing  none  of  the  inhabi- 
tants, not  even  women  and  children.  At  the 
same  time  Dalmatia  and  the  neighboring  towns 
were  so  devastated  by  the  barbarians  that  St. 
Jerome,  who  was  a native  of  that  kingdom,  said 
that  a traveller  passing  through  the  country 
would  find  only  earth  and  sky,  so  universal  was 
the  desolation. 

Is  it  not  evident,  therefore,  that  virtue  not 
only  helps  us  attain  the  joys  of  eternity,  but 
that  it  also  secures  for  us  the  blessings  of  this 
life  ? 


* Amos  ix.  7,  8. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


227 


Let,  then,  the  consideration  of  this  privilege, 
with  the  others  which  we  have  mentioned,  excite 
you  to  renewed  ardor  in  the  practice  of  virtue, 
which  is  able  to  save  you  from  so  many  mise- 
ries and  procure  you  so  many  blessings. 


CHAPTER  XXIII. 

THE  TWELFTH  PRIVILEGE  OF  VIRTUE  : THE 
HAPPY  DEATH  OF  THE  JUST. 

THE  end,  it  is  said,  crowns  the  work,  and, 
therefore,  it  is  in  death  that  the  just 
man’s  life  is  most  fittingly  crowned,  while 
the  departure  of  the  sinner  is  a no  less 
fitting  close  to  his  wretched  career.  “ Precious 
in  the  sight  of  the  Lord  is  the  death  of  the 
Saints,”  * says  the  Psalmist,  but  “the  death  of 
the  wicked  is  very  evil.”  f Commenting  upon 
the  latter  part  of  this  text,  St.  Bernard  says  : 
“The  death  of  the  wicked  is  bad  because  it 
takes  them  from  this  world  ; it  is  still  worse 
because  it  separates  the  soul  from  the  body ; 
and  it  is  worst  because  it  precipitates  them  into 
the  fire  of  hell,  and  delivers  them  a prey  to  the 
undying  worm  of  remorse.”  To  these  evils 
which  haunt  the  sinner  at  the  hour  of  death 
add  the  bitter  regrets  which  gnaw  his  heart, 
the  anguish  which  fills  his  soul,  and  the  tor- 
ments which  rack  his  body.  He  is  seized  with 
terror  at  the  thought  of  the  past  ; of  the  ac- 

* Ps.  cxv.  5.  + Ps.  xxxiii.  22. 


228 


The  Sin?ier’s  Guide . 


count  he  must  render ; of  the  sentence  which 
is  to  be  pronounced  against  him  ; of  the  hor- 
rors of  the  tomb  ; of  separation  from  wife, 
children,  and  friends  ; of  bidding  farewell  to 
the  things  he  has  loved  with  an  inordinate 
and  a guilty  love — wealth,  luxuries,  and  even 
the  gifts  of  nature,  the  light  of  day  and  the 
pure  air  of  heaven.  The  stronger  his  love  for 
earthly  things  has  been,  the  more  bitter  will  be 
his  anguish  in  separating  from  them.  As  St. 
Augustine  says,  we  cannot  part  without  grief 
from  that  which  we  have  possessed  with  love. 
It  was  in  the  same  spirit  that  a certain  philoso- 
pher said  that  he  who  has  fewest  pleasures  in 
life  has  least  reason  to  fear  death. 

But  the  greatest  suffering  of  the  wicked  at 
the  hour  of  death  comes  from  the  stings  of 
remorse,  and  the  thought  of  the  terrible  future 
upon  which  they  are  about  to  enter.  The  ap- 
proach of  death  seems  to  open  man’s  eyes  and 
make  him  see  all  things  as  he  never  saw  them 
before.  “ As  life  ebbs  away,”  says  St.  Eusebius, 
“man  is  free  from  all  distracting  care  for  the 
necessities  of  life.  He  ceases  to  desire  honors, 
emoluments,  or  dignities,  for  he  sees  that  they 
are  beyond  his  grasp.  Eternal  interests  and 
thoughts  of  God’s  justice  demand  all  his  atten- 
tion. The  past  with  its  pleasures  is  gone ; the 
present  with  its  opportunities  is  rapidly  gliding 
aAvay  ; all  that  remains  to  him  is  the  future,  with 
the  dismal  prospect  of  his  many  sins  waiting  to 
accuse  him  before  the  judgment-seat  of  the 
just  God.”  “ Consider,”  the  Saint  again  says, 
“ the  terror  which  will  seize  the  negligent  soul 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


229 


when  she  is  entering  eternity ; the  anguish 
with  which  she  will  be  filled  when,  foremost 
among  her  accusers,  her  conscience  will  appear 
with  its  innumerable  retinue  of  sins.  Its  testi- 
mony cannot  be  denied  ; its  accusations  will 
leave  her  mute  and  helpless  ; there  will  be  no 
need  to  seek  farther  witnesses,  for  the  know- 
ledge of  this  life-long  companion  will  confound 
her.  ” 

Still  more  terrible  is  the  picture  of  the  death 
of  the  sinner  given  by  St.  Peter  Damian.  “ Let 
us  try  to  represent  to  ourselves,”  he  says,  “the 
terror  which  fills  the  soul  of  the  sinner  at  the 
hour  of  death  and  the  bitter  reproaches  with 
which  conscience  assails  him.  The  command- 
ments he  lias  despised  and  the  sins  he  has 
committed  appear  before  him  to  haunt  him  by 
their  presence.  He  sighs  for  the  time  which 
he  has  squandered,  and  which  was  given  to  him 
to  do  penance  ; he  beholds  with  despair  the  ac- 
count he  must  render  before  the  dread  tribunal 
of  God.  He  longs  to  arrest  the  moments,  but 
they  speed  relentlessly  on,  bearing  him  nearer 
and  nearer  to  his  doom.  If  he  look  back  his 
life  seems  but  a moment,  and  before  him  is  the 
limitless  horizon  of  eternity.  He  weeps  bitterly 
at  the  thought  of  the  unspeakable  happiness 
which  he  has  sacrificed  for  the  fleeting  plea- 
sures of  the  flesh.  Confusion  and  shame  over- 
whelm him  when  he  sees  he  has  forfeited  a 
glorious  place  among  the  angelic  choirs,  through 
love  for  his  body,  which  is  about  to  become  the 
food  of  worms.  When  he  turns  his  eyes  from 
the  abode  of  these  beings  of  light  to  the  dark 


230 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


valley  of  this  world,  he  sees  how  base  and  un- 
worthy are  the  things  for  which  he  has  rejected 
immortal  glory  and  happiness.  Oh  ! could  he 
but  regain  a small  portion  of  the  time  he  has 
lost,  what  austerities,  what  mortifications  he 
would  practise  ! What  is  there  that  could  over- 
come his  courage  ? What  vows  would  he  not 
offer,  and  how  fervent  would  be  his  prayers  ! 
But  while  he  is  revolving  these  sad  thoughts 
the  messengers  of  death  appear  in  the  rigid 
limbs,  the  dark  and  hollow  eyes,  the  heaving 
breast,  the  foaming  lips,  the  livid  face.  And 
as  these  exterior  heralds  approach  every 
thought,  word,  and  action  of  his  guilty  life 
appear  before  him.  Vainly  does  he  strive  to 
turn  his  eyes  from  them  ; they  will  not  be  ban- 
ished. On  one  side — and  this  is  true  of  every 
man’s  death — Satan  and  his  legions  are  present, 
tempting  the  dying  man,  in  the  hope  of  seizing 
his  soul  even  at  the  last  minute.  On  the  other 
side  are  the  Angels  of  Heaven,  helping,  consol- 
ing, and  strengthening  him.  And  yet  it  is  his 
own  life  that  will  decide  the  contest  between 
the  spirits  of  darkness  and  the  Angels  of  light. 
In  the  case  of  the  good,  who  have  heaped  up  a 
treasure  of  meritorious  works,  the  victory  is 
with  the  Angels  of  light.  But  the  impious  man, 
whose  unexpiated  crimes  are  crying  for  ven- 
geance, rejects  the  help  that  is  offered  to  him  ; 
yields  to  despair  ; and  as  his  unhappy  soul  passes 
from  his  pampered  body  the  demons  are  ready 
to  seize  it  and  bear  it  away.”  What  stronger 
proof  does  man  require  of  the  wretched  condi- 
tion of  the  sinner,  and  what  more  does  he  need 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


231 


to  make  him  avoid  a career  which  ends  so  de- 
plorably ? If  at  this  critical  hour  riches  could 
help  him  as  they  do  at  many  other  periods  of 
life,  the  evil  would  be  less.  But  he  will  receive 
no  succor  from  Ins  riches,  his  honors,  his  dig- 
nities, his  distinguished  friends.  The  only 
patronage  which  will  then  avail  him  will  be 
that  of  virtue  and  innocence.  “ Riches/’  says 
the  Wise  Man.  “ shall  not  profit  in  the  day  of 
revenge,  but  justice  shall  deliver  from  death.”* 

As  the  wicked,  therefore,  receive  at  the  hour 
of  death  the  punishment  of  their  crimes,  so  do 
the  just  then  receive  the  reward  of  their  vir- 
tues. “ With  him  thatfeareth  the  Lord,”  says 
the  Holy  Ghost,  “ it  shall  go  well  in  the  latter 
end  ; “ and  in  the  day  of  his  death  he  shall  be 
blessed.”  f St.  John  declares  this  truth  still 
more  forcibly  when  he  tells  us  that  he  heard  a 
voice  from  Heaven  commanding  him  : “Write: 
Blessed  are  the  dead  who  die  in  the  Lord. 
From  henceforth,  saith  the  Spirit,  they  rest 
from  their  labors,  for  their  works  follow  them.”  J 
With  such  a promise  from  God  Himself  how 
can  the  just  man  fear  ? Can  he  dread  that 
hour  in  which  he  is  to  receive  the  reward  of  his 
life’s  labors  ? Since,  as  we  read  in  Job,  he  has 
put  away  iniquity,  brightness  like  that  of  the 
noonday  shall  arise  to  him  at  evening,  and  when 
he  shall  think  himself,  consumed  he  shall  rise 
as  the  day-star.  § Explaining  these  words,  St. 
Gregory  says  that  the  light  which  illumines  the 
close  of  the  just  man’s  life  is  the  splendor  of 

* Prov.  xi.  4.  t Ecclus.  i.  33.  $ Apoc.  xiv.  13. 

§ Job  xi.  14,  17. 


232 


The  Simier’s  Guide . 


that  immortal  glory  which  is  already  so  near. 
When  others,  therefore,  are  weighed  down  by 
sadness  and  despair,  he  is  full  of  confidence  and 
joy.  For  this  reason  Solomon  has  said  that 
the  wicked  shall  be  rejected  because  of  their 
wickedness,  but  the  just  man  hath  hope  in  the 
hour  of  his  death.* 

What  more  striking  example  of  this  confident 
hope  can  we  find  than  that  of  the  glorious  St. 
Martin  ? Seeing  the  devil  beside  his  bed  at  the 
hour  of  death,  he  cried  out  : “What  dost  thou 
here,  cruel  beast  ? Thou  wilt  find  no  mortal 
sin  in  my  soul  by  which  thou  mayest  bind  me. 
I go,  therefore,  to  enjoy  eternal  peace  in  Abra- 
ham’s bosom.”  Equally  touching  and  beauti- 
ful was  the  confidence  of  our  holy  Father,  St. 
Dominic.  Seeing  the  religious  of  his  order 
weeping  around  his  bed,  he  said  to  them : 
“ Weep  not,  my  children,  for  I can  do  you  more 
good  where  I am  going  than  I could  ever  hope 
to  do  on  earth.”  How  could  the  fear  of  death 
overcome  one  who  so  confidently  hoped  to  ob- 
tain Heaven  not  only  for  himself  but  also  for 
his  disciples  ? 

Far,  then,  from  fearing  death,  the  just  hail 
it  as  the  hour  of  their  deliverance  and  the  be- 
ginning of  their  reward.  In  his  commentary 
on  the  Epistle  of  St.  John  St.  Augustine 
writes  : “It  cannot  be  said  that  he  who  de- 
sires to  be  dissolved  and  to  be  with  Christ  en- 
dures death  with  patience,  but  rather  that  he 
endures  life  with  patience  and  embraces  death 
with  joy.”  It  is  not,  therefore,  with  cries  and 

* Prov.  xiv.  32. 


The  Sinners  Guide. 


233 


lamentations  that  the  just  man  sees  his  end  ap- 
proaching, but,  like  the  swan,  which  is  said,  to 
sing  as  death  draws  near,  lie  departs  this  life 
with  words  of  praise  and  thanksgiving  on  his 
lips.  He  does  not  fear  death,  because  he  has 
always  feared  God,  and  he  who  fears  God  need 
fear  nothing  else.  He  does  not  fear  death,  be- 
cause his  life  has  been  a preparation  for  death, 
and  he  who  is  always  armed  and  ready  need  not 
fear  the  enemy.  He  does  not  fear  death,  be- 
cause he  has  sought  during  life  to  secure  in 
virtue  and  good  works  powerful  advocates  for 
that  terrible  hour.  He  does  not  fear  death, 
because  he  has  endeavored,  by  devoted  service, 
to  incline  his  Judge  in  his  favor.  Finally,  he 
does  not  fear  death,  because  to  the  just  death  is 
only  a sweet  sleep,  the  end  of  toil,  and  the  be- 
ginning of  a blessed  immortality. 

Nor  can  the  accompanying  accidents  and 
pains  of  death  alarm  him,  for  he  knows  that 
they  are  but  the  throes  and  pangs  in  which  he 
must  be  brought  forth  to  eternal  life.  He  is 
not  dismayed  by  the  memory  of  his  sins  or  the 
rigor  of  God’s  justice,  since  he  has  Christ  for 
his  Friend  and  Advocate.  He  does  not  trem- 
ble at  the  presence  of  Satan  and  his  followers, 
for  his  Redeemer,  who  has  conquered  hell  and 
death,  stands  at  his  side.  For  him  the  tomb 
has  no  terrors,  for  he  knows  that  he  must  sow 
a natural  body  in  order  that  it  may  rise  a spiri- 
tual body,  that  this  corruptible  must  put  on  in- 
corruption.*  Since,  as  we  have  already  re- 
marked, the  end  crowns  the  work,  and,  as 

* 1 Cor.  XV.  42,  44. 


234 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Seneca  tells  us,  the  last  day  condemns  or  justi- 
fies the  whole  life,  how  can  we,  beholding  the 
peaceful  and  blessed  death  of  the  just  and  the 
miserable  departure  of  the  wficked,  seek  for  any 
other  motive  to  make  us  embrace  a life  of  vir- 
tue ? 

Of  what  avail  will  be  the  riches  and  prospe- 
rity which  you  may  enjoy  during  your  short 
stay  in  this  life,  if  your  eternity  will  be  spent 
in  the  endless  torments  of  hell  ? Or  how  can 
you  shrink  from  the  temporary  sufferings  that 
will  win  for  you  an  eternity  of  happiness  ? Of 
what  advantage  are  learning  and  skill,  if  the 
sinner  use  them  only  to  acquire  those  things 
wdiich  flatter  his  pride,  feed  his  sensuality,  con- 
firm him  in  sin,  unfit  him  to  practise  virtue, 
and  thus  render  death  as  bitter  and  unwelcome 
as  his  life  was  pleasant  and  luxurious  ? We 
consider  him  a wise  and  skilful  physician  who 
prudently  seeks  by  every  fit  means  to  restore 
the  health  of  his  patient,  since  this  is  the  end 
of  his  science.  So  is  he  truly  wise  who  regu- 
lates his  life  with  a view  to  his  last  end,  who 
constantly  employs  all  the  means  in  his  power 
to  fit  himself  for  a happy  death. 

Behold,  then,  dear  Christian,  the  twelve 
fruits  of  virtue  in  this  life.  They  are  like 
the  twelve  fruits  of  the  tree  of  life  seen  by  St. 
John  in  his  prophetic  vision.*  This  tree  repre- 
sents Jesus  Christ,  and  is  also  a symbol  of  vir- 
tue wfith  its  abundant  fruits  of  holiness  and 
life.  And  what  fruits  can  be  compared  to 
those  which  we  have  been  considering  ? What 

* Apoc.  xxii.  2. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


235 


is  there  more  consoling  than  the  fatherly  care 
with  which  God  surrounds  the  just  ? What 
blessings  equal  those  of  divine  grace,  of  heav- 
enly wisdom,  of  the  consolations  of  the  Holy 
Spirit,  of  the  testimony  of  a good  conscience, 
of  invincible  hope,  of  unfailing  efficacy  in 
prayer,  and  of  that  peaceful  and  happy  death 
with  which  the  just  man’s  life  is  crowned  ? 
But  one  of  these  fruits,  rightly  known  and  ap- 
preciated, should  suffice  to  make  us  embrace 
virtue. 

Think  not  that  you  will  ever  regret  any  labor 
or  any  sacrifice  made  in  pursuit  of  so  great  a 
good.  The  wicked  do  not  strive  to  attain  it, 
for  they  know  not  its  value.  To  them  the 
kingdom  of  Heaven  is  like  a hidden  treasure.* 
And  yet  it  is  only  through  the  divine  light  and 
the  practice  of  virtue  that  they  will  learn  its 
beauty  and  worth.  Seek,  therefore,  this  light, 
and  you  will  find  the  pearl  of  great  price. 

Do  not  leave  the  source  of  eternal  life  to 
drink  at  the  turbid  streams  of  the  world.  Fol- 
low the  counsel  of  the  prophet,  and  taste  and 
see  that  the  Lord  is  sweet.  Trusting  in  our 
Saviour’s  words,  resolutely  enter  the  path  of 
virtue,  and  your  illusions  will  vanish.  The 
serpent  into  which  the  rod  of  Moses  was  con- 
verted was  frightful  at  a distance,  but  at  the 
touch  of  his  hand  it  became  again  a harmless 
rod.  To  the  wicked  virtue  wears  a forbidding 
look ; to  sacrifice  their  worldly  pleasures  for 
her  would  be  to  buy  her  at  too  dear  a rate. 
But  when  they  draw  near  they  see  how  lovely 

* St.  Matt.  xiii.  44. 


236 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


she  is,  and  when  they  have  once  tasted  the 
sweetness  she  possesses  they  cheerfully  sur- 
render all  they  have  to  Avin  her  friendship  and 
love.  How  gladly  did  the  man  in  the  Gospel 
hasten  to  sell  all  he  had  to  purchase  the  field 
which  contained  a treasure!*  Why,  then,  do 
Christians  make  so  little  effort  to  obtain  this 
inestimable  good  ? If  a companion  assured  you 
that  a treasure  lay  hidden  in  your  house  you 
would  not  fail  to  search  for  it,  even  though  you 
doubted  its  existence.  Yet  though  you  know, 
on  the  infallible  word  of  God,  that  you  can  find 
a priceless  treasure  within  your  own  breast, 
you  do  nothing  to  discover  it.  Oh  ! that  you 
wrould  realize  its  value  ! Would  that  you  knew 
how  little  it  costs  to  obtain  it,  and  how  “nigh 
is  the  Lord  unto  all  them  that  call  upon  Him, 
that  call  upon  Him  in  truth  ” ! f Be  mindful  of 
the  prodigal,  of  so  many  others  who  have  re- 
turned from  sin  and  error,  to  find,  instead  of  an 
angry  Judge,  a loving  Father  awaiting  them. 
Do  penance,  therefore,  for  your  sins,  and  God 
will  no  longer  remember  your  iniquities.  J Re- 
turn to  your  loving  Father  ; rise  with  the  dawn 
and  knock  at  the  gates  of  His  mercy ; humbly 
persevere  in  your  entreaties,  and  He  will  not 
fail  to  reveal  to  you  the  treasure  of  His  love. 
Having  once  experienced  the  sweetness  which 
it  contains,  you  will  say  with  the  spouse  in  the 
Canticle:  “If  a man  should  give  all  the  sub- 
stance of  his  house  for  love,  he  shall  despise  it 
as  nothing.”  § 


* St.  Matt.  xiii.  44. 

$ Ezech.  xviii.  21,  22. 


t Ps.  cxliv.  18. 
§ Cant.  viii.  7. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


237 


CHAPTER  XXIV. 

THE  FOLLY  OF  THOSE  WHO  DEFER  THEIR  COH- 
YERSIOFT. 

THE  considerations  offered  in  the  preceding 
chapters  should  be  more  than  sufficient  to 
excite  men  to  the  love  and  practice  of 
virtue.  However,  sinners  never  seem  to 
be  in  want  of  excuses  to  defend  their  loose  lives. 
“ A sinful  man/’  says  the  Scripture,  “will  flee 
reproof,  and  will  find  an  excuse  according  to 
his  will. ”*  “He  that  hath  a mind  to  depart 
from  a friend  seeketli  occasions.”  f Thus  the 
wicked,  who  flee  reproach,  who  wish  to  with- 
draw from  God,  are  never  without  an  excuse. 
Some  defer  this  important  affair  of  salvation  to 
an  indefinite  future  ; others  till  the  hour  of 
death.  Many  allege  that  it  is  too  difficult  and 
arduous  an  undertaking.  Many  presume  upon 
God’s  mercy,  persuading  themselves  that  they 
can  be  saved  by  faith  and  hope  without  charity. 
Others,  in  fine,  who  are  enslaved  by  the  plea- 
sures of  the  world,  are  unwilling  to  sacrifice 
them  for  the  happiness  which  God  promises. 
These  are  the  snares  most  frequently  employed 
by  Satan  to  allure  men  to  sin,  and  to  keep  them 
in  its  bondage  until  death  surprises  them.  At 
present  we  intend  to  answer  those  who  defer 
their  conversion,  alleging  that  they  can  turn  to 
God  more  efficaciously  at  another  time.  With 
this  excuse  was  St.  Augustine  kept  back  from  a 

*Ecclus.  xxxii.  21.  t Prov.  xviii.  1. 


238 


The  Sinner’s  Guide * 


virtuous  life.  “ Later,  Lord,”  lie  cried — “ later 
I will  abandon  the  world  and  sin.” 

It  will  not  be  difficult  to  prove  that  this  is  a 
ruse  of  the  father  of  lies,  whose  office  since  the 
beginning  of  the  world  has  been  to  deceive  man. 
We  know  with  certainty  that  there  is  nothing 
which  a Christian  should  desire  more  earnestly 
than  salvation.  It  is  equally  certain  that  to 
obtain  it  the  sinner  must  change  his  life,  since 
there  is  no  other  possible  means  of  salvation. 
Therefore,  all  that  remains  for  us  is  to  decide 
when  this  amendment  should  begin.  You  say, 
at  a future  day.  I answer,  at  this  present  mo- 
ment. You  urge  that  later  it  will  be  easier.  I 
insist  that  it  will  be  easier  now.  Let  us  see 
which  of  us  is  right. 

Before  we  speak  of  the  facility  of  conversion, 
tell  me  who  has  assured  you  that  you  will  live 
to  the  time  you  have  appointed  for  your  amend- 
ment. Do  you  not  know  how  many  have  been 
deceived  by  this  hope  ? St.  Gregory  tells  us 
that  “God  promises  to  receive  the  repentant 
sinner  when  he  returns  to  Him,  but  nowhere 
does  He  promise  to  give  him  to-morrow.”  St. 
Ca3sarius  thus  expresses  the  same  thought : 
“Some  say,  In  my  old  age  I will  have  recourse 
to  penance  ; but  how  can  you  promise  yourself 
an  old  age,  when  your  frail  life  cannot  count 
with  security  upon  one  day  ?”  I cannot  but 
think  that  the  number  of  souls  lost  in  this  wav 
is  infinite.  It  was  the  cause  of  the  ruin  of  the 
rich  man  in  the  Gospel,  whose  terrible  history  is 
related  by  St.  Luke  : “The  land  of  a certain 
rich  man  brought  forth  plenty  of  fruits ; and  he 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


239 


thought  within  himself,  saying  : What  shall  I 
do,  because  I have  no  room  where  to  bestow  my 
fruits  ? And  he  said  : This  will  I do  : I will 
pull  down  my  barns,  and  will  build  greater, 
and  into  them  will  I gather  all  things  that  are 
grown  to  me,  and  my  goods  ; and  I will  say  to 
my  soul : Soul,  thou  hast  much  goods  laid  up 
for  many  years  ; take  thy  rest,  eat,  drink,  make 
good  cheer.  But  God  said  to  him  : Thou  fool, 
this  night  do  they  require  thy  soul  of  thee  ; and 
whose  shall  those  things  be  which  thou  hast 
provided  ?”  * What  greater  folly  than  thus  to 
dispose  of  the  future,  as  if  time  were  our  own  ! 
“ God,”  says  St.  John,f  “holds  the  keys  of  life 
and  death.”  Yet  a miserable  worm  of  the  earth 
dares  usurp  this  power.  Such  insolence  merits 
the  punishment  which  the  sinner  usually  re- 
ceives. Rejecting  the  opportunity  God  gives 
him  for  amendment,  he  is  denied  the  time  he 
has  presumptuously  chosen  for  penance,  and 
thus  miserably  perishes  in  his  sins.  Since  the 
number  who  are  thus  chastised  is  very  great, 
let  us  profit  by  their  misfortunes  and  heed  the 
counsel  of  the  Wise  Man  : “ Delay  not  to  be 
converted  to  the  Lord,  and  defer  it  not  from 
day  to  day.  For  His  wrath  shall  come  on  a 
sudden,  and  in  the  time  of  vengeance  He  will 
destroy  thee.  ” J 

But,  even  granting  that  you  will  live  as  long 
as  you  imagine,  will  it  be  easier  to  begin  your 
conversion  now  or  some  years  hence  ? To 
make  this  point  clear  we  shall  give  a brief  sum- 
mary of  the  causes  which  render  a sincere  con- 

* St.  Luke  xii.  16-21.  t Apoc.  i.  18.  $ Ecclus.  v.  8,  9. 


240 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


version  difficult.  The  first  of  these  causes  is 
the  tyranny  of  bad  habits.  So  strong  are  these 
that  many  would  die  rather  than  relinquish 
them.  Hence  St.  Jerome  declares  that  a long 
habit  of  sin  robs  virtue  of  all  its  sweetness. 
For  habit  becomes  second  nature,  and  to  over- 
come it  we  must  conquer  nature  itself,  which 
is  the  greatest  victory  a man  can  achieve. 
“ When  a vice  is  confirmed  by  habit/’  says  St. 
Bernard,  “it  cannot  be  extirpated  except  by 
a very  special  and  even  miraculous  grace.” 
Therefore,  there  is  nothing  which  a Christian 
should  dread  more  than  a habit  of  vice,  because, 
like  other  things  in  this  world,  vice  claims  pre- 
scription, and  once  that  is  established  it  is 
almost  impossible  to  root  it  out.  A second 
cause  of  this  difficulty  is  the  absolute  power 
which  the  devil  has  over  a soul  in  sin.  He  is 
then  the  strongly-armed  man  mentioned  in  the 
Gospel,  who  does  not  easily  relinquish  what  he 
has  acquired.  Another  cause  of  this  difficulty 
is  the  separation  which  sin  makes  between  God 
and  the  soul.  Though  represented  in  Scrip- 
ture * as  a sentinel  guarding  the  walls  of  Jeru- 
salem, God  withdraws  farther  and  farther  from 
a sinful  soul,  in  proportion  as  her  vices  increase. 
We  can  learn  the  deplorable  condition  into 
which  this  separation  plunges  the  soul  from 
God  Himself,  Who  exclaims  by  His  prophet  : 
“ Woe  to  them,  for  they  have  departed  from  Me. 
Woe  to  them  when  I shall  depart  from  them.”  f 
This  abandonment  by  God  is  the  second  woe 
of  which  St.  John  speaks  in  the  Apocalypse. 

* Isaias  lx.  t Osee  vii.  13  and  ix.  12. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


241 


The  last  cause  of  this  difficulty  is  the  corrup- 
tion of  sin,  which  weakens  and  impairs  the 
faculties  of  the  soul,  not  in  themselves,  but  in 
their  operations  and  effects.  Sin  darkens  the 
understanding,  excites  the  sensual  appetites, 
and,  though  leaving  it  free,  so  weakens  the  will 
that  it  is  unable  to  govern  us.  Being  the  in- 
struments of  the  soul,  what  but  trouble  and  dis- 
order can  be  expected  from  these  faculties  in 
their  weak  and  helpless  state  ? How,  then, 
can  you  think  that  your  conversion  will  be 
easier  in  the  future,  since  every  day  increases 
the  obstacles  you  now  dread,  and  weakens  the 
forces  with  which  you  must  combat  them  ? If 
you  cannot  ford  the  present  stream,  how  will 
you  pass  through  it  when  it  will  have  swollen 
to  an  angry  torrent  ? Perhaps  you  are  now  a 
prey  to  a dozen  vices,  which  you  tremble  to 
attack.  With  what  courage,  but  especially 
with  what  success,  will  you  attack  them  when 
they  will  have  increased  a hundred-fold  in  num- 
bers and  power  ? If  you  are  now  baffled  by  a 
year  or  two  of  sinful  habits,  how  can  you  resist 
their  strength  at  the  end  of  ten  years  ? Do 
you  not  see  that  this  is  a snare  of  the  arch- 
enemy, who  deceived  our  first  parents,  and  who 
is  continually  seeking  to  deceive  us  also  ? 

Can  you,  then,  doubt  that  you  only  increase 
the  difficulties  of  your  conversion  by  deferring 
it  ? Do  you  think  that  the  more  numerous 
your  crimes  the  easier  it  will  be  to  obtain  a par- 
don ? Do  you  think  that  it  will  be  easier  to 
effect  a cure  when  the  disease  will  have  become 
chronic  ? “ A long  sickness  is  troublesome  to 


242 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


the  physician,  but  a short  one” — that  is,  one 
which  is  taken  in  the  beginning — “is  easily  cut 
off.”*  Hear  how  an  Angel  disabused  a holy 
solitary  of  an  illusion  like  yours  : Taking  him 
by  the  hand,  he  led  him  into  a field  and  showed 
him  a man  gathering  fagots.  Finding  the 
bundle  he  had  collected  too  heavy,  the  wood- 
cutter began  to  add  to  it ; and  perceiving  that 
he  was  still  less  able  to  lift  it,  he  continued  to 
add  to  the  quantity,  imagining  that  he  would 
thus  carry  it  more  easily.  The  holy  man  won- 
dering at  what  he  saw,  the  Angel  said  to  him  : 
Such  is  the  folly  of  men,  who,  unable  to  remove 
the  present  burden  of  their  sins,  continue  to 
add  to  it  sin  after  sin,  foolishly  supposing  that 
they  will  more  easily  lift  a heavier  burden  in 
the  future. 

But  among  all  these  obstacles  the  greatest  is 
the  tyranny  of  evil  habits.  Would  that  I could 
make  you  understand  the  power  with  which 
they  bind  us  ! As  each  blow  of  the  hammer 
drives  a nail  farther  and  farther  into  the  Avood, 
until  it  can  hardly  be  withdrawn,  so  every  sin- 
ful action  is  a "fresh  blow  which  sinks  vices 
deeper  and  deeper  into  our  souls  until  it  is 
almost  impossible  to  uproot  them.  Thus  it  is 
not  rare  to  see  the  sinner  in  his  old  age  a prey 
to  vices  which  have  dishonored  his  youth,  in 
which  he  is  no  longer  capable  of  finding  plea- 
sure, and  which  his  years  and  the  weakness  of 
nature  would  repel,  were  he  not  bound  to  them 
by  long-continued  habit.  Are  we  not  told  in 
Scripture  that  “the  bones  of  the  sinner  shall 

* Ecclus.  x.  11, 12. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


243 


be  filled  with  the  vices  of  his  youth,  and  that 
they  shall  sleep  with  him  in  the  dust  ” Y * 
Thus  we  see  that  even  death  does  not  terminate 
the  habit  of  vice ; its  terrible  effects  pass  into 
eternity.  It  becomes  a second  nature,  and  is  so 
imprinted  in  his  flesh  that  it  consumes  him  like  a 
fatal  poison  for  which  there  is  scarcely  any  re- 
medy. This  our  Saviour  teaches  us  in  the  resur- 
rection of  Lazarus.  He  had  raised  other  dead 
persons  by  a single  word,  but  to  restore  Lazarus, 
who  had  been  four  days  in  the  tomb,  He  had 
recourse  to  tears  and  prayers,  to  show  us  the 
miracle  God  effects  when  he  raises  to  the  life  of 
grace  a soul  buried  in  a habit  of  sin.  For,  ac- 
cording to  St.  Augustine,  the  first  of  these  four 
days  represents  the  pleasure  of  sin  ; the  second, 
the  consent ; the  third,  the  act ; and  the 
fourth,  the  habit  of  sin.  Therefore,  the  sinner 
who  has  reached  this  fourth  day  can  only  be 
restored  to  life  by  the  tears  and  prayers  of  our 
Saviour. 

But  let  us  suppose  that  you  will  not  be  dis- 
appointed, that  you  will  live  to  do  penance. 
Think  of  the  inestimable  treasures  you  are  now 
losing  and  how  bitterly  you  will  regret  them 
when  too  late.  While  your  fellow-Christians 
(are  enriching  themselves  for  Heaven,  you  are 
idling  away  your  time  in  the  childish  follies  of 
the  world. 

Besides  this,  think  of  the  evil  you  are  accu- 
mulating. We  should  not,  says  St.  Augustine, 
commit  one  venial  sin  even  to  gain  the  whole 
world.  How,  then,  can  you  so  carelessly  heap 

♦Job  xx.  11. 


244 


Tice  Sinner’s  Guide. 


up  mortal  sins,  when  the  salvation  of  a thou- 
sand worlds  would  not  justify  one  ? How 
dare  you  offend  with  impunity  Him  at  Whose 
feet  you  must  kneel  for  mercy,  in  Whose  hands 
lies  your  eternal  destiny  ? Can  you  afford  to 
defy  Him  of  Whom  you  have  such  urgent  need  ? 
“Tell  me/’  says  St.  Bernard,  “you  who  live  in 
sin,  do  you  think  God  will  pardon  you  or  not  ? 
If  you  think  He  will  reject  you,  is  it  not 
foolish  to  continue  to  sin  when  you  have  no 
hope  of  pardon  ? And  if  you  rely  upon  His 
goodness  to  pardon  you,  notwithstanding  your 
innumerable  offences,  what  can  be  more  base 
than  the  ingratitude  with  which  you  presume 
upon  His  mercy,  which,  instead  of  exciting  you 
to  love  Him,  only  leads  you  to  offend  Him  ?” 
How  can  you  answer  this  argument  of  the 
Saint  ? 

Consider  also  the  tears  with  which  you  will 
expiate  your  present  sins.  If  God  visit  you  one 
day,  if  He  cause  you  to  hear  His  voice  (and 
alas  for  you  if  He  do  not !),  be  assured  that 
the  remorse  for  your  sins  will  be  so  bitter  that 
you  will  wish  you  had  suffered  a thousand 
deaths  rather  than  have  offended  so  good  a 
Master.  David  indulged  but  a short  time  in 
sinful  pleasures,  yet  behold  how  bitter  was  his 
sorrow,  how  long  he  wept  for  his  sins.  “I 
have  labored  in  my  groanings,”  he  cried;  “ every 
night  I will  wash  my  bed,  I will  water  my 
couch  with  my  tears.”*  Why,  then,  will  you 
sow  what  you  can  only  reap  in  tears?  Con- 
sider, moreover,  the  obstacles  to  virtue  which 

* Ps.  vi.  7. 


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245 


continual  sin  establishes  in  us.  Moses  com- 
pelled the  children  of  Israel,  in  punishment  of 
their  idolatry,  to  drink  the  ashes  of  the  golden 
calf  which  they  had  adored.*  God  often  in- 
dicts a like  punishment  upon  sinners,  permit- 
ting their  very  bones  to  become  so  impregnated 
with  the  effects  of  sin  that  the  idol  which  they 
formerly  worshipped  becomes  for  them  a pun- 
ishment and  a constant  source  of  torment. 

Let  me  call  your  attention  to  the  foolish 
choice  you  make  in  selecting  old  age  as  a time 
for  repentance,  and  permitting  your  youth  to 
go  fruitlessly  by.  What  would  you  think  of  a 
man  who,  having  several  beasts  of  burden,  put 
all  the  weight  upon  the  weakest,  letting  the 
others  go  unloaded  ? Greater  is  the  folly  of 
those  Christians  who  assign  all  the  burden  of 
penance  to  old  age,  which  can  hardly  support 
itself,  and  who  spend  in  idleness  the  vigorous 
years  of  youth.  Seneca  has  admirably  said  that 
'he  who  waits  until  old  age  to  practise  virtue 
clearly  shows  that  he  desires  to  give  to  virtue  only 
the  time  of  which  he  can  make  no  other  use.f 
And  do  not  lose  sight  of  the  satisfaction  God 
requires  for  sin,  which  is  so  great  that,  in  the 
opinion  of  St.  John  Climachus,  man  can  with 
difficulty  satisfy  each  day  for  the  faults  he 
commits  each  day.  Why,  then,  will  you  con- 
tinue to  accumulate  the  debt  of  sin  and  defer 
its  payment  to  old  age,  which  can  so  poorly  sat- 
isfy for  its  own  transgressions  ? St.  Gregory 
considers  this  the  basest  treason,  and  says  that 
he  who  defers  the  duty  of  penance  to  old  age 

* Exod.  xxxii.  20.  t “ De  Brev.  Vitse,”  cap.  15. 


246 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


falls  far  short  of  the  allegiance  he  owes  to  God, 
and  has  much  reason  to  fear  that  he  will  be  a 
victim  of  God’s  justice  rather  than  the  object 
of  that  mercy  upon  which  he  has  so  rashly  pre- 
sumed. 

But  apart  from  all  these  considerations,  if 
you  have  any  sense  of  justice  or  honesty  will 
not  the  benefits  you  have  received  and  the  re- 
wards you  are  promised  induce  you  to  be  less 
sparing  in  the  service  of  so  liberal  a Master  ? 
How  wise  is  the  counsel  we  read  in  Ecclesias- 
ticus  : “Let  nothing  hinder  thee  from  praying 
always,  and  be  not  afraid  to  be  justified  even  to 
death  ; for  the  reward  of  God  conti  nueth  for 
ever.”*  Since  the  reward  is  to  continue  as 
long  as  God  remains  in  Heaven,  why  should  not 
your  service  continue  as  long  as  you  remain 
upon  earth  ? If  the  duration  of  the  recom- 
pense is  limitless,  why  will  you  limit  the  time 
of  your  service  ? 

You  hope,  no  doubt,  to  be  saved  ; therefore, 
you  must  believe  yourself  of  the  number  of 
those  whom  God  has  predestined.  Will  you, 
then,  wait  until  the  end  of  your  life  to  serve 
Him  Who  has  loved  you  and  chosen  you  heir 
to  His  kingdom  from  all  eternity  ? Will  you 
be  so  ungenerous  with  Him  Whose  generosity  to 
you  has  been  boundless  ? The  span  of  human 
life  is  so  limited,  how  can  you  dare  rob  this 
generous  Benefactor  of  the  greatest  part,  leav- 
ing Him  only  the  smallest  and  most  worthless 
portion?  “Dregs  alone,”  says  Seneca,  “re- 
main at  the  bottom  of  a vessel.”  “ Cursed  is 


* Ecclus.  xviii.  22. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


247 


the  deceitful  man,”  says  God,  “ that  hath  in  his 
flock  a male,  and  making  a vow  offereth  in 
sacrifice  that  which  is  feeble  to  the  Lord  ; for 
1 am  a great  King,  saith  the  Lord  of  hosts,  and 
My  name  is  dreadful  among  the  gentiles.”  * 
In  other  words,  none  but  great  services  are 
worthy  of  His  greatness.  Imperfect  offerings 
are  an  affront  to  His  majesty.  Will  you,  then, 
give  the  best  and  most  beautiful  part  of  your 
life  to  the  service  of  the  devil,  and  reserve  for 
God  only  that  portion  which  the  world  refuses  ? 
He  has  said  that  there  shall  not  be  in  thy  house 
a greater  measure  and  a less  ; that  thou  shalt 
have  a just  and  true  weight. f Yet,  in  contra- 
diction to  this  law,  you  have  two  unequal  mea- 
sures—a great  one  for  the  devil,  whom  you  treat 
as  your  friend,  and  a small  one  for  God,  Whom 
you  treat  as  your  enemy. 

If  all  these  benefits  fail  to  touch  you,  do  not 
be  insensible  to  the  favor  your  Heavenly  Fa- 
ther has  conferred  upon  you  in  giving  His  Di- 
vine Son  to  redeem  you.  Were  you  possessed 
of  an  infinite  number  of  lives  you  would  owe 
them  all  in  payment — and  they  would  be  but  a 
small  return — for  that  Life,  more  precious  than 
that  of  Angels  and  men,  which  was  offered  for 
you.  How,  then,  can  you  refuse  the  service  of 
your  miserable  life  to  Him  Who  sacrificed  Him- 
self for  you  ? 

I shall  conclude  this  chapter  with  a passage 
from  Ecclesiastes  in  which  man  is  exhorted  to 
give  himself  to  the  service  of  his  Creator  in  his 
youth,  and  not  to  defer  it  till  old  age,  the  infir- 

* Mai.  i.  14.  t Deut.  xxv.  14, 15. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


mities  of  which  are  described  under  curious  and 
admirable  figures  : “ Remember  th  j Creator  in 
the  days  of  thy  youth,  before  the  time  of  afflic- 
tion comes,  and  the  years  draw  nigh  of  which 
thou  slmlt  say  : They  please  me  not  ; before 
the  sun,  and  the  light,  and  the  moon,  and  the 
stars  be  darkened  ; when  the  keepers  of  the 
house  [that  is,  the  hands]  shall  tremble,  and  the 
strong  men  [the  legs,  which  support  the  frame] 
shall  stagger,  and  the  teeth  shall  be  few  and 
idle  ; when  they  that  looked  through  the  eyes 
[the  faculties  of  the  soul]  shall  be  darkened  ; 
when  they  shall  shut  the  doors  in  the  street 
[that  is,  the  senses,  by  which  we  communicate 
with  the  outer  world]  ; when  man  shall  rise 
with  the  bird  [for  old  age  requires  little  sleep]; 
when  all  the  daughters  of  music  shall  grow 
deaf  [for  the  organs  of  the  voice  grow  weak  and 
narrow];  when  man  shall  fear  high  things  and 
be  afraid  in  the  way  [for  old  age  shuns  a steep 
and  rugged  way,  and  trembles  as  it  walks]; 
when  the  almond-tree  shall  flourish  [that  is, 
when  the  head  shall  be  crowned  with  white 
hair];  when  man  shall  enter  the  house  of  his 
eternity  [which  is  the  tomb];  when  his  friends 
shall  lament  and  mourn  for  him ; and  when 
dust  shall  return  to  the  earth  whence  it  came, 
and  the  spirit  shall  return  to  God  Who  gave 
it.”  * 

Therefore,  defer  not  your  repentance  until 
old  age,  when  virtue  will  seem  a necessity  ra- 
ther than  a choice,  and  when  it  may  be  said 
that  your  vices  have  left  you,  rather  than  that 

*Eccles.  xii.  1-8 


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249 


you  have  left  them.  Remember,  however,  that 
old  age  is  generally  what  youth  has  been  ; for, 
as  the  sacred  writer  observes,  “how  shalt  thou 
find  in  thy  old  age  the  things  thou  hast  not  gath- 
ered in  thy  youth  ? ” * Let  me  urge  you,  then, 
in  the  words  of  the  same  inspired  author,  to 
“ give  thanks  whilst  thou  art  living  and  in  health, 
to  praise  God  and  glory  in  His  mercies.”  f 
Among  those  who  waited  at  the  pool  of  Betli- 
saida  J he  only  was  cured  who  first  plunged  in- 
to the  water  after  it  had  been  moved  by  the 
Angel.  The  salvation  of  our  soul,  in  like  man- 
ner, depends  upon  the  promptness  and  submis- 
sion with  which  we  obey  the  inspiration  with 
which  God  moves  us.  Delay  not,  therefore, 
dear  Christian,  but  make  all  the  haste  you  can; 
and  if,  as  the  prophet  says,  “you  shall  hear  His 
voice  to-day,”  § defer  not  your  answer  till  to- 
morrow, but  set  about  a work  the  difficulty  of 
which  will  be  so  much  lessened  by  a timely  be- 
ginning. 


CHAPTER  XXV. 

OF  THOSE  WHO  DEFER  THEIR  CONVERSION  UN- 
TIL THE  HOUR  OF  DEATH. 

THE  arguments  we  have  just  stated  should 
certainly  be  sufficient  to  convince  men  of 
the  folly  of  death -bed  repentances  ; for  if 
it  be  so  dangerous  to  defer  penance  from 
day  to  day,  what  must  be  the  consequence  of 

* Ecclus.  xxv.  5.  t xvii.  27.  % St.  John  v.  4.  § Ps.  xciv.  8. 


250 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


deferring  it  until  the  hour  of  death  ? But  as 
this  is  a very  general  error,  causing  the  ruin  of 
many  souls,  we  shall  devote  a special  chapter  to 
it.  The  reflections  which  we  are  about  to  make 
may  alarm  and  discourage  weak  souls,  but  the 
consequences  of  presumption  are  still  more 
fatal,  for  a greater  number  is  lost  through,  false 
confidence  than  through  excessive  fear.  There- 
fore, we,  who  are  one  of  the  sentinels  mentioned 
by  Ezechiel,  must  warn  you  of  these  dangers, 
that  you  may  not  rush  blindly  to  your  ruin, 
and  that  your  blood  may  not  be  upon  us.  As 
the  safest  light  for  us  is  that  of  Holy  Scrip- 
ture, interpreted  by  the  Fathers  and  Doctors  of 
the  Church,  we  shall  first  study  their  opinions 
on  this  subject,  and  afterwards  wTe  shall  learn 
what  God  Himself  teaches  us  by  His  inspired 
writers. 

Before  entering  upon  the  subject  we  must 
bear  in  mind  an  undeniable  principle,  concern- 
ing which  St.  Augustine  and  all  the  holy  Doc- 
tors are  agreed — namely,  that  as  true  repent- 
ance is  the  work  of  God,  so  He  can  inspire  it 
when  and  where  He  wills.  Hence  if  the  heart 
of  the  sinner,  even  at  the  hour  of  death,  be 
filled  with  true  contrition  for  his  sins,  it  will  avail 
him  for  salvation.  But,  to  show  you  how  rare 
such  examples  of  repentance  are,  I shall  give  you 
the  testimony  of  the  Saints  and  Doctors  of  the 
Church.  I do  not  ask  you  to  believe  me,  but 
believe  them,  the  chosen  instruments  of  the 
Holy  Ghost.  And  first  hear  St.  Augustine. 
In  a work  entitled  “ True  and  False  Penance  ” 
he  says  : “ Let  no  one  hope  to  do  penance  when 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


251 


he  can  no  longer  sin.  God  wishes  us  to  per- 
form this  work  cheerfully  and  not  through  com- 
pulsion. Therefore,  he  who,  instead  of  leaving 
his  sins,  waits  until  they  leave  him,  acts  from 
necessity  rather  than  from  choice.  For  this 
reason  they  who  would  not  return  to  God  when 
they  could,  but  are  willing  to  seek  Him  when 
they  are  no  longer  able  to  sin,  will  not  so  easily 
obtain  what  they  desire.”  Speaking  of  the 
character  of  true  conversion,  he  says  : “He  is 
truly  converted  who  turns  to  God  with  his 
whole  heart,  who  not  only  fears  punishment 
but  earnestly  desires  to  merit  God’s  graces  and 
favors.  Should  any  one  turn  to  God  in  this 
way,  evep  at  the  end  of  his  life,  we  would  have 
no  reason  to  despair  of  his  salvation.  But  as 
examples  of  this  perfect  conversion  are  very 
rare,  we  cannot  but  tremble  for  one  who  defers 
his  repentance  until  the  hour  of  death.  More- 
over, if  he  obtain  the  pardon  of  his  sins  their 
temporal  punishment  is  not  remitted  ; he  must 
expiate  them  in  the  fire  of  Purgatory,  the  pain 
of  which  is  greater  than  any  suffering  known 
on  earth.  Never  did  the  martyrs  in  their  most 
terrible  torments,  never  did  malefactors,  though 
subjected  to  all  the  cruelties  which  human: 
malice  could  invent,  endure  sufferings  equal  to 
those  of  Purgatory.  Let  him,  then,  if  he 
would  avoid  these  dreadful  punishments  after 
death,  begin  from  this  time  to  amend  his 
life.” 

St.  Ambrose,  in  his  book  on  Penance,  which 
some  attribute  to  St.  Augustine,  treats  of  this 
subject  at  great  length.  Here  is  one  of  the 


252 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


many  excellent  things  he  tells  ns  : “If  a man 
ask  for  the  Sacrament  of  Penance  on  his  death- 
bed, we  do  not  refuse  him  what  he  asks,  but 
we  are  far  from  assuring  you  that  if  he  die 
after  it  he  is  on  the  way  to  Heaven.  It  is 
more  than  we  dare  affirm  or  promise,  for  we 
would  not  deceive  you.  But  if  you  would  be 
relieved  of  this  uncertainty,  if  you  would  dissi- 
pate this  doubt,  do  penance  for  your  sins  while 
you  are  in  health,  and  then  I can  positively  as- 
sure you  that  you  will  be  in  a good  way,  for 
you  will  have  repented  for  your  crimes  when 
you  might  have  been  increasing  them.  If,  on 
the  contrary,  you  defer  your  repentance  until 
you  are  no  longer  able  to  sin,  it  will  not  be  that 
you  have  abandoned  your  sins,  but  rather  that 
they  have  abandoned  you.”  St.  Isidore  forci- 
bly expresses  the  same  truth:  “ Would  you 
have  a hope  of  being  pardoned  your  sins  at  the 
hour  of  death,  do  penance  for  them  while  you 
are  able.  But  if  you  spend  your  life  in  wicked- 
ness, and  still  hope  for  forgiveness  at  your 
death,  you  are  running  a most  serious  risk. 
Though  you  are  not  sure  that  you  will  be 
damned,  your  salvation  is  by  no  means  more 
certain.” 

The  authorities  which  we  have  just  quoted 
are  very  alarming ; yet  the  words  of  St.  Jerome, 
uttered  as  he  lay  in  sackcloth  upon  the  ground 
awaiting  his  last  hour,  are  still  more  terri- 
fying. I dare  not  give  his  words  in  all  their 
rigor,  lest  I should  discourage  weak  souls  ; but 
I refer  him  who  desires  to  read  them  to  an 
epistle  on  the  death  of  St.  Jerome  written  by 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


253 


his  disciple  Eusebius  (o  a bishoj)  named  Dama- 
sus.  I will  quote  only  this  passage  : “ He  who 
daily  perseveres  in  sin  will  probably  say  : ‘ When 
I am  going  to  die  I shall  do  penance/  Oh! 
melancholy  consolation  ! Penance  at  the  hour 
of  death  is  a very  doubtful  remedy  for  him  who 
has  always  done  evil,  and  has  thought  of  pen- 
ance only  as  a dream,  to  be  realized  in  the  un- 
certain future.  Wearied  by  suffering;  dis- 
tracted with  grief  at  parting  from  family, 
mends,  and  worldly  possessions  which  he  can 
no  longer  enjoy  ; a prey  to  bitter  anguish,  how 
will  he  raise  his  heart  to  God  or  conceive  a true 
soi low  for  his  sins  f He  has  never  done  so  in 
life,  and  he  would  not  do  it  now  had  he  any 
hope  of  recovery.  What  kind  of  penance  must 
that  be  which  a man  performs  when  life  itself 
is  leaving  him  ? I have  known  rich  worldlings 
who  have  recovered  from  bodily  sickness  only 
to  render  the  health  of  their  souls  still  more 
deplorable.  Here  is  what  I think,  what  I 
viiow,  for  I have  learned  it  by  a long  experience: 
H he  who  has  been  a slave  to  sin  during  life 
die  a happy  death,  it  is  only  by  an  extraordi- 
nary miracle  of  grace/5 

St.  Gregory  expresses  himself  not  less  strong- 
ly  upon  this  subject.  Writing  upon  these  words 
ol  Job,  What  is  the  hope  of  the  hypocrite, 
w-ii  covetousness  he  take  by  violence  ? 

Will  God  hear  his  cry  when  distress  shall  come 
upon  him?  * he  says  : “If  a man  be  deaf  to 
God  s voice  in  prosperity,  God  will  refuse  to 
hear  him  in  adversity,  for  it  is  written  : ‘ He 

* Job  xxvii.  8,  9. 


254 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


that  turneth  away  his  ears  from  hearing  the 
law,  his  prayer  shall  be  an  abomination.’”* 
And  Hugh  of  St.  Victor,  comprehending  in  one 
sentence  the  teaching  of  the  Fathers,  says  : 

“ It  is  very  difficult  for  that  penance  to  be  true 
which  comes  at  the  hour  of  death,  for  we  have 
much  reason  to  suspect  it  because  it  is  forced.” 

You  now  know  the  sentiments  of  these  great 
Doctors  of  the  Church  on  death-bed  repentance. 
See,  then,  what  folly  it  would  be  in  you  to 
contemplate  without  fear  a passage  of  which 
the  most  skilful  pilots  speak  with  terror.  A 
life-time  is  not  too  long  to  learn  how  to  die 
well.  At  the  hour  of  death  our  time  is  suffi- 
ciently occupied  in  dying.  "We  have  then  no 
leisure  to  learn  the  lesson  of  dying  well. 

The  teaching  of  the  Fathers  which  we  have 
just  given  is  also  the  teaching  of  the  doctors 
of  the  schools.  Among  the  many  authorities 
whom  we  could  quote  we  shall  select  Scotus, 
one  of  the  most  emineut,  who,  after  treating 
this  subject  at  great  length,  concludes  that  ; 
conversion  at  the  hour  of  death  is  so  difficult 
that  it  is  rarely  true  repentance.  He  supports 
his  conclusion  by  these  four  reasons  : 

First,  because  the  physical  pains  and  weak- 
ness which  precede  death  prevent  a man  from 
elevating  his  heart  to  God  or  fulfilling  the 
duties  of  true  repentance.  To  understand  this  I 
you  must  know  that  uncontrolled  passions  lead 
man’s  free-will  where  they  please.  Now,  philo-  < 
sophers  teach  that  the  passions  which  excite 
sorrow  are  much  stronger  than  those  which 

* Prov.  xxviii.  9. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


255 


cause  joy.  Hence  it  follows  that  no  passions, 
no  sentiments  exceed  in  intensity  the  passions 
and  sentiments  awakened  by  the  approach  of 
death  ; for,  as  Aristotle  tells  us,  death  is  the 
most  terrible  of  all  terrible  things.  To  suffer- 
ings of  body  it  unites  anguish  of  soul  awakened 
by  parting  from  loved  ones  and  from  all  that  bind 
our  affections  to  this  world.  When,  therefore, 
the  passions  are  so  strong  and  turbulent,  whither 
can  man’s  will  and  thoughts  turn  but  to  those 
things  to  which  these  violent  emotions  draw 
them  ? We  see  how  difficult  it  is  even  for  a 
man  exercised  in  virtue  to  turn  his  thoughts  to 
God  or  spiritual  things  when  his  body  is  racked 
with  pain.  How  much  more  difficult  will  it  be 
for  the  sinner  to  turn  his  thoughts  from  his 
body,  which  he  has  always  preferred  to  his  soul ! 

I myself  knew  a man  who  enjoyed  a reputa- 
tion for  virtue,  but  who,  when  told  that  his  last 
hour  was  at  hand,  was  so  terrified  that  he 
could  think  of  nothing  but  applying  remedies 
, to  ward  off  the  terrible  moment.  A priest  who 
was  present  exhorted  him  to  turn  his  thoughts 
; to  his  soul’s  interests  ; but  he  impatiently  re- 
j pelled  his  counsels,  and  in  these  disedifying  dis- 
positions soon  after  expired.  Judge  by  this 
example  the  trouble  which  the  presence  of 
death  excites  in  those  who  have  an  inordinate 
love  for  this  life,  if  one  who  loves  it  in  modera- 
i tion  cling  to  it  so  tenaciously  regardless  of  the 
interests  of  the  life  to  come. 

The  second  reason  given  by  Scotus  is  that 
repentance  should  be  voluntary,  not  forced. 
Hence  St.  Augustine  tells  us  that  a man  must 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


not  only  fear  but  love  his  Judge.  We  cannot 
think  that  one  who  has  refused  to  repent  dur- 
ing life,  and  only  has  recourse  to  this  remedy  at 
the  hour  of  death,  seeks  it  freely  and  volun- 
tarily. 

Such  was  the  repentance  of  Semei  for  his 
outrage  against  David  when  he  fled  from  his 
son  Absalom.  When  King  David  returned  in 
triumph  Semei  went  forth  to  meet  him  with 
tears  and  supplications  ; but  though  David  then 
spared  his  life,  on  his  death-bed  he  enjoined  his 
son  Solomon  to  deal  with  the  traitor  according 
to  his  deserts.*  Similar  is  the  repentance  of 
Christians  who,  after  outraging  God  with  im- 
punity during  life,  piteously  claim  His  mercy 
at  the  hour  of  death.  We  may  judge  of  the 
sincerity  of  such  repentance  by  the  conduct  of 
many  who  have  been  restored  to  health,  for 
they  are  no  sooner  released  from  the  imminent 
fear  of  death  than  they  relapse  into  the  same 
disorders.  The  salutary  sentiments  excited  by 
fear,  and  not  by  virtue,  vanish  when  the  danger 
is  past. 

The  third  reason  is  that  a habit  of  sin  con- 
firmed by  long  indulgence  accompanies  man  as 
inseparably  as  the  shadow  does  the  body,  even 
to  the  tomb.  It  becomes,  as  we  have  said,  a 
second  nature  which  it  is  almost  impossible  to 
conquer.  How  often  do  we  see  old  men  on  the 
verge  of  the  grave  as  hardened  to  good,  and  as 
eager  for  honors  and  wealth,  which  they  know 
they  cannot  take  with  them,  as  if  they  were  at 
the  beginning  of  their  career  ! 

* 2 Kings  xvi.  and  xix.,  and  3 Kings  ii. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


257 


This  is  a punishment,  says  St.  Gregory,  which 
God  frequently  inflicts  upon  sin,  permitting  it 
to  accompany  its  author  even  to  the  tomb  ; for 
the  sinner,  who  has  forgotten  God  during  life, 
too  often  forgets  his  own  eternal  interests  at  this 
terrible  hour.  We  have  frequent  and  striking 
proof  of  this,  for  how  often  do  we  hear  of  per- 
sons who  refuse  to  be  separated  from  the  objects 
of  their  sinful  love  even  at  their  last  hour,  and, 
by  a just  judgment  of  God,  expire  wholly  for- 
getful of  what  is  due  to  their  Maker  and  their 
own  souls  ! 

The  fourth  reason  given  by  Scotus  is  taken 
from  the  value  of  actions  done  at  such  a time  ; 
for  it  is  manifest  to  all  who  have  any  know- 
ledge of  God  that  He  is  much  less  pleased  with 
services  offered  at  this  hour  than  with  the  same 
services  offered  under  different  circumstances. 
“What  merit  is  there,”  says  the  virgin  and 
martyr  St.  Lucy,  “ in  giving  up  what  you  are 
forced  to  leave,”  in  pardoning  an  injury  which 
it  would  be  a dishonor  to  avenge,  or  in  break- 
ing sinful  bonds  which  you  can  no  longer 
maintain  ? 

Prom  these  reasons  this  doctor  concludes 
that  repentance  at  the  hour  of  death  is  a dan- 
gerous and  difficult  matter.  He  goes  even  far- 
ther, and  affirms  that  the  act  by  which  a Chris- 
tian deliberately  resolves  to  defer  his  conversion 
till  the  hour  of  death  is  in  itself  a mortal  sin, 
because  of  the  injury  he  thereby  inflicts  on  his 
soul,  and  because  of  the  peril  to  which  he  ex- 
poses his  salvation. 

As  the  final  decision  of  this  question  depends 


258 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


on  the  word  of  God,  I pray  you  to  hear  what 
He  teaches  us  through  Holy  Scripture.  The 
Eternal  Wisdom,  after  inviting  men  to  practise 
virtue,  utters  by  the  mouth  of  Solomon  the  fol- 
lowing malediction  against  those  who  are  deaf 
to  His  voice : “ Because  I called,  and  you  re- 
fused ; I stretched  out  my  hand,  and  there  was 
none  that  regarded.  You  have  despised  all  My 
counsels,  and  have  neglected  My  reprehensions. 
I also  will  laugh  in  your  destruction,  and  will 
mock  when  that  shall  come  to  you  which  you 
feared.  When  sudden  calamity  shall  fall  on 
you,  and  destruction  as  a tempest  shall  be  at 
hand  ; when  tribulation  and  distress  shall  come 
upon  you,  then  shall  they  call  upon  Me,  and  I 
will  not  hear.  They  shall  rise  in  the  morning, 
and  shall  not  find  Me,  because  they  have  hated 
instruction,  and  received  not  the  fear  of  the 
Lord,  nor  consented  to  My  counsel,  but  despised 
all  My  reproof/’  * We  have  the  authority  of 
St.  Gregory  for  saying  that  these  words  of  the 
Holy  Ghost  apply  to  our  present  subject.  Are 
they  not  sufficient  to  open  your  eyes  and  deter- 
mine you  to  save  yourself  from  God’s  vengeance 
by  a timely  preparation  for  this  terrible  hour  ? 

In  the  New  Testament  we  find  no  less  strik- 
ing authority.  Our  Saviour,  when  speaking  to 
His  Apostles  of  the  day  of  His  coming,  never 
fails  to  warn  them  to  be  always  ready.  “ Blessed 
is  that  servant,”  He  says,  “ whom  when  his 
lord  shall  come  he  shall  find  watching.  Amen 
I say  to  you,  he  shall  place  him  over  all  his 
goods.  But  if  the  evil  servant  shall  say  in  his 

* Prov.  i.  24-31. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


259 


heart : My  lord  is  long  coming,  and  shall  be- 
gin to  strike  his  fellow-servants,  and  shall  eat 
and  drink  with  drunkards,  the  lord  of  that 
servant  shall  come  in  a day  that  he  hopeth  not, 
and  at  an  hour  that  he  knowetli  not,  and  shall 
separate  him,  and  appoint  his  portion  with  the 
hypocrites.  There  shall  be  weeping  and  gnash- 
ing of  teeth/5*  In  this  parable  our  Saviour, 
Who  reads  the  secret  designs  of  the  wicked,  tells 
them  what  they  are  to  expect  and  what  will  be 
the  result  of  their  vain  confidence.  You  are 
this  bad  servant,  since  you  cherish  the  same  de- 
signs in  your  heart,  and  seize  the  present  time 
to  eat  and  drink  and  gratify  every  passion. 
Why  do  you  not  fear  the  wrath  of  Him  Who  is 
all-powerful  to  execute  what  He  threatens  ? It 
is  to  you  that  His  menaces  are  addressed. 
Awake,  unhappy  soul ! and  hasten  to  profit  by 
the  time  that  remains  to  you. 

We  are  devoting  much  time  to  this  subject, 
which  ought  to  be  clear  to  all,  but  we  must  do 
so,  since  there  are  so  many  unhappy  Christians 
who  endeavor  to  satisfy  their  consciences  with 
this  false  excuse.  Hear,  then,  another  lesson  of 
our  Saviour:  “Then  shall  the  Kingdom  of 
Heaven,55 He  says,  “be  like  to  ten  virgins  who, 
taking  their  lamps,  went  out  to  meet  the  bride- 
groom and  the  bride.55  What  time  does  our 
Saviour  indicate  by  thex  ? The  hour  of  gene- 
ral judgment  and  of  each  particular  judgment, 
St.  Augustine  replies,  for  the  sentence  uttered 
in  secret  immediately  after  death  will  be  rati- 
fied before  all  men  on  the  last  day.  Five  of 

* Matt.  xxiv.  46  to  end. 


260 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


these  virgins  were  wise  and  five  were  foolish, 
our  Saviour  continues.  The  foolish  virgins  took 
no  oil  with  them  for  their  lamps,  and  when  at 
midnight — a time  of  profoundest  slumber,  when 
men  give  least  thought  to  their  interests — a cry 
was  heard,  “The  bridegroom  cometh,”  all  the 
virgins  arose,  and  they  who  had  trimmed  their 
lamps  and  furnished  them  witli  oil  went  in  to 
the  marriage,  and  the  door  was  shut.  When 
the  foolish  virgins,  who  had  gone  to  seek  oil  for 
their  lamps,  came,  saying,  “Lord,  Lord,  open 
to  us,”  He  answered  them  saying,  “Amen  I 
say  to  you,  I know  you  not.”  Our  Saviour  con- 
cludes the  parable  with  these  words  : “ Watch, 
therefore,  because  you  know  not  the  day  nor  the 
hour.”  Could  we  ask  a plainer  warning  than 
this  ? Could  we  desire  a clearer  condemnation 
of  the  folly  of  those  who  rely  on  death-bed  re- 
pentances ? 

You  will  perhaps  urge  in  opposition  to  all 
this  that  the  good  thief  was  saved  at  the  last 
hour.  St.  Augustine  answers  this  objection  by 
saying  that  the  good  thief  received  in  one  hour 
the  grace  of  conversion  and  baptism,  which  be- 
ing immediately  followed  by  death,  his  soul 
went  directly  to  Paradise.  Moreover,  the  con- 
version of  the  good  thief  was  one  of  the  many 
miracles  which  marked  our  Saviour’s  coming, 
one  of  .the  chief  testimonies  to  His  glory.  The 
rocks  were  rent ; the  earth  trembled  ; the  sun 
refused  to  give  his  light  ; the  graves  were 
opened  and  the  dead  came  forth  to  bear  wit- 
ness to  the  Divinity  of  Him  Who  was  crucified. 
For  a like  purpose  the  grace  of  repentance  was 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


261 


bestowed  on  the  good  thief,  whose  confession  of 
Christ  was  no  less  wonderful  than  his  conver- 
sion, for  he  acknowledged  Christ  when  the 
Apostles  fled  from  Him  and  denied  Him  ; he 
glorified  Christ  when  the  world  blasphemed  and 
insulted  Him.  This  miracle  being  one  of  the 
extraordinary  marvels  marking  the  coming  of 
Christ,  it  is  folly  to  expect  that  it  will  be  re- 
peated in  our  behalf.  Ho  ; St.  Paul  tells  us 
that  the  end  of  the  wicked  corresponds  to  their 
works.  This  is  a truth  which  is  constantly  re- 
peated 'in  Holy  Scripture.  It  is  sung  by  the 
Psalmist ; foretold  by  the  Prophets  ; announced 
by  the  Evangelists  ; and  preached  by  the  Apos- 
tles. 

Others  argue  that  attrition  joined  to  the  sac- 
raments suffices  to  obtain  the  pardon  of  sin,  and 
claim  that  at  the  hour  of  death  they  will  have 
at  least  attrition.  But  they  should  remember 
that  the  attrition  which,  joined  to  the  sacra- 
ments, obtains  the  pardon  of  sin  is  a special  de- 
gree of  sorrow,  and  God  only  can  know  whether 
they  possess  it. 

The  holy  Doctors  were  not  ignorant  of  the 
efficacy  of  attrition  joined  to  the  sacraments, 
yet  see  how  little  confidence  they  had  in  death- 
bed repentances.  “ We  give  the  Sacrament  of 
Penance  to  such  a sinner  who  asks  for  it,”  says 
St.  Ambrose,  “but  we  give  him  no  assurance 
of  salvation.” 

If  you  cite  the  example  of  the  Hinivites, 
whose  conversion  was  the  effect  of  fear,  I would 
remind  you  not  only  of  the  rigorous  penance 
they  performed,  but  of  the  amendment  which 


262 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


was  wrought  in  their  lives.  Let  there  be  the 
same  amendment  in  your  life,  and  you  will  not 
fail  to  find  equal  mercy.  But  when  I see  that 
you  no  sooner  recover  your  health  than  you  re- 
lapse into  your  former  disorders,  what  am  I to 
think  of  your  repentance  ? 

What  we  have  said  in  this  and  the  preceding 
chapters  is  not  intended  to  close  the  door  of 
hope  or  salvation  against  any  one.  Our  only 
intention  is  to  rout  the  sinner  from  the  strong- 
hold in  which  he  entrenches  himself  that  he 
may  continue  to  sin.  Tell  me,  dear  Christian, 
for  the  love  of  God,  how  you  dare  expose  your- 
self to  such  peril  when  the  Fathers  of  the 
Church,  the  Saints,  Holy  Scripture,  and  reason 
itself  unite  in  warning  you  of  the  dangers  at- 
tending a repentance  deferred  until  the  hour  of 
death  ? In  what  do  you  place  your  confidence  ? 
In  the  prayers  and  Masses  you  will  have  offered 
for  you  ? In  the  money  37 ou  will  leave  for  good 
works  ? Alas  ! the  foolish  virgins  filled  their 
lamps  at  the  last  hour,  but  they  called  in  vain 
upon  the  Bridegroom.  Do  you  think  your  tears 
will  avail  you  at  that  time  ? Tears,  no  doubt, 
are  powerful,  and  blessed  is  he  who  weeps  in 
sincerity  ; but  your  tears,  like  those  of  E?an, 
who  sold  his  birthright  to  satisfy  his  gluttony, 
will  flow,  not  for  your  sins,  but  for  what  you 
have  lost ; and  like  his,  as  the  Apostle  tells  us, 
they  will  flow  in  vain.*  Will  your  promises 
and  good  resolutions  help  you  ? Good  resolu- 
tions are  excellent  wdien  sincere,  but  remember 
what  edifying  and  valiant  resolutions  Antiochus 

* Heb.  xii.  17. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


263 


formed  when  the  hand  of  God  had  been  laid 
upon  him.  Yet  Holy  Scripture  tells  us  : “ This 
wicked  man  prayed  to  the  Lord,  of  Whom  he 
was  not  to  obtain  mercy/’  * And  why  ? Be- 
cause his  good  purposes  and  resolutions  sprang 
not  from  love,  but  from  servile  fear,  which, 
though  commendable,  is  not  sufficient  of  itself 
to  justify  the  sinner.  The  fear  of  hell  can  arise 
from  the  love  man  naturally  bears  himself,  but 
love  of  self  gives  us  no  right  to  Heaven . As  no 
one  clothed  in  sackcloth  could  enter  the  palace 
of  Assuerus,f  so  no  one  can  enter  Heaven 
clothed  in  the  dress  of  a slave — that  is,  with  the 
garment  of  servile  fear.  We  must  be  clothed 
wfith  the  wedding  garment  of  love,  if  we  would 
be  admitted  to  the  palace  of  the  King  of  kings. 
I conjure  you,  then,  dear  Christian,  to  think  of 
this  hour  which  must  inevitably  come  to  you. 
And  it  may  not  be  far  distant.  But  a few  years, 
and  you  will  experience  the  truth  of  my  predic- 
tions. You  will  find  yourself  distracted  with 
pain,  filled  with  anguish  and  terror  at  the  ap- 
proach of  death  and  at  the  thought  of  the  eter- 
nal sentence  which  is  about  to  be  pronounced 
upon  you.  Vainly  will  you  then  essay  to  change 
it,  to  soften  its  rigor.  But  that  which  will  be 
impossible  then  is  not  only  possible  but  easily 
accomplished  now,  for  it  is  in  your  own  power 
to  make  your  sentence  what  you  will  wish  it  at 
the  hour  of  death.  Lose  no  time,  therefore; 
hasten  to  propitiate  your  Judge.  Follow  the 
counsel  of  the  prophet,  and  “seek  the  Lord 
while  He  may  be  found ; call  upon  Him  while 

* 2 Mach.  ix.  13.  t Esther  iy.  2. 


264 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


Hg  is  near.55*  He  is  now  near  to  hear  us, 
though  we  cannot  see  Him.  On  the  day  of 
judgment  we  shall  see  Him,  but  He  will  not 
hear  us,  unless  we  now  live  so  as  to  merit  this 
blessing  from  Him. 


CHAPTER  XXVI. 

OF  THOSE  WHO  CONTINUE  IN  SIN,  TRUSTING 
IN  THE  MERCY  OF  GOD. 

] RESIDES  those  who  defer  their  conversion 
< till  the  hour  of  death,  there  are  others 
J who  persevere  in  sin,  trusting  in  the  mer- 
cy of  God  and  the  merits  of  His  Passion. 
We  must  now  disabuse  them  of  this  illusion. 

You  say  that  God’s  mercy  is  great,  since  He 
died  on  the  cross  for  the  salvation  of  sinners. 
It  is  indeed  great,  and  a striking  proof  of  its 
greatness  is  the  fact  that  He  bears  with  the 
blasphemy  and  malice  of  those  who  so  presume 
upon  the  merits  of  His  death  as  to  make  His 
cross,  which  was  intended  to  destroy  the  king- 
dom of  evil,  a reason  for  multiplying  sin.  Had 
you  a thousand  lives  you  would  owe  them  all 
to  Him,  yet  you  rob  Him  of  that  one  life  which 
you  have  and  for  which  He  died.  This  crime 
was  more  bitter  to  our  Saviour  than  death  itself. 
For  it  He  reproaches  us  by  the  mouth  of  His 
prophet,  though  He  does  not  complain  of  His 
sufferings:  “The  wicked  have  wrought  upon 
My  back  ; they  have  extended  their  iniquity.55  f 

* Isaias  lv.  6.  t Ps.  cxxviii.  3. 


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265 


Who  taught  you  to  reason  that  because  God 
was  good  you  could  sin  with  impunity  ? Such  is 
not  the  teaching  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  On  the  con- 
trary, those  who  listen  to  His  voice  reason  thus  : 
God  is  good  ; therefore,  I must  serve  Him,  obey 
Him,  and  love  Him  above  all  things.  God  is 
good  ; therefore,  I will  turn  to  Him  with  all  my 
heart  ; I will  hope  for  pardon,  notwithstanding 
the  number  and  enormity  of  my  sins.  God  is 
good  ; therefore,  I must  be  good  if  I would  imi- 
tate Him.  God  is  good  ; therefore,  it  would  be 
base  ingratitude  in  me  to  offend  Him  by  sin. 
Thus,  the  greater  you  represent  God’s  goodness, 
the  more  heinous  are  your  crimes  against  Him. 
Nor  will  these  offences  remain  unpunished,  for 
God’s  justice,  which  protects  His  mercy,  cannot 
permit  your  sinful  abuse  of  it  to  remain  un- 
avenged. 

This  is  not  a new  pretext ; the  world  has  long 
made  use  of  it.  In  ancient  times  it  distinguish- 
ed the  false  from  the  true  prophets.  While  the 
latter  announced  to  the  people,  in  God’s  name, 
the  justice  with  which  He  would  punish  their 
iniquities,  the  former,  speaking  in  their  own 
name,  promised  them  mercy  which  was  but  a 
false  peace  and  security. 

You  say  God’s  mercy  is  great ; but  if  you  pre- 
sume upon  it  you  show  that  you  have  never 
studied  the  greatness  of  His  justice.  Had  you 
done  so  you  would  cry  out  with  the  Psalmist  : 
“Who  knoweth  the  power  of  Thy  anger,  0 
Lord  ! and  for  Thy  fear  who  can  number  Thy 
wrath  ? ” * 


* Ps.  Ixxxix.  11, 


266 


The  Sinners  Guide. 


But  to  dissipate  your  illusion  let  me  ask  you 
to  contemplate  this  justice  in  the  only  way  in 
which  we  may  have  any  knowledge  of  it — that  is, 
in  its  effects  here  below. 

Besides  the  result  we  are  seeking  we  shall  reap 
another  excellent  advantage  by  exciting  in  our 
hearts  the  fear  of  God,  which,  in  the  opinion  of 
the  Saints,  is  the  treasure  and  defence  of  the 
soul.  Without  the  fear  of  God  the  soul  is  like 
a ship  without  ballast ; the  winds  of  human  or 
divine  favor  may  sweep  it  to  destruction.  Not- 
withstanding that  she  may  be  richly  laden  with 
virtue,  she  is  in  continual  danger  of  being 
wrecked  on  the  rocks  of  temptation,  if  she  be 
not  stayed  by  this  ballast  of  the  fear  of  God. 
Therefore,  not  only  those  who  have  just  entered 
God’s  service,  but  those  who  have  long  been  of 
His  household,  should  continue  in  this  salutary 
fear ; the  former  by  reason  of  their  past  trans- 
gressions, the  latter  on  account  of  their  weak- 
ness, which  exposes  them  to  danger  at  every 
moment. 

This  holy  fear  is  the  effect  of  grace,  and  is. 
preserved  in  the  soul  by  frequent  meditation. 
To  aid  you  in  this  reflection  we  shall  here  pro- 
pose a few  of  the  practical  proofs  of  the  great- 
ness of  God’s  justice. 

The  first  work  of  God’s  justice  was  the  repro- 
bation of  the  Angels.  “All  the  ways  of  God 
are  mercy  and  justice,”  * says  David  ; but  until 
the  fall  of  the  Angels  divine  justice  had  not 
been  manifested.  It  had  been  shut  up  in  the 
bosom  of  God  like  a sword  in  the  scabbard, 

* Pe.  xxiv.  10. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


267 


like  that  sword  of  which  Ezechiel  * speaks  with 
alarm,  foretelling  the  ruin  it  will  cause.  This 
first  sin  drew  the  sword  of  justice  from  its 
scabbard,  and  terrible  was  the  destruction  it 
wrought.  Contemplate  its  effects  ; raise  your 
eyes  and  behold  one  of  the  most  brilliant  beings 
of  God’s  house,  a resplendent  image  of  the  di- 
vine beauty,  flung  with  lightning-like  rapidity  f 
from  a glorious  throne  in  Heaven  to  the  utter- 
most depths  of  hell,  for  one  thought  of  pride. 
The  prince  of  heavenly  spirits  becomes  the  chief 
of  devils.  His  beauty  and  glory  are  changed 
into  deformity  and  ignominy.  God’s  favorite 
subject  is  changed  into  His  bitterest  enemy,  and 
will  continue  such  for  all  eternity.  With  what 
awe  this  must  have  filled  the  Angels,  who  knew 
the  greatness  of  his  fall ! With  what  astonish- 
ment they  repeat  the  words  of  Isaias  : “ How 
art  thou  fallen  from  Heaven,  0 Lucifer,  who 
didst  rise  in  the  morning  ! ” J 

Consider  also  the  fall  of  man,  which  would 
have  been  no  less  terrible  than  that  of  the 
Angels,  if  it  had  not  been  repaired.  Behold 
in  it  the  cause  of  all  the  miseries  we  suffer 
on  earth  : original  and  actual  sin,  suffering  of 
body  and  mind,  death,  and  the  ruin  of  num- 
berless souls  who  have  been  lost  for  ever.  Ter- 
rible are  the  calamities  it  brought  upon  us ; 
and  even  greater  would  be  our  misfortunes  had 
not  Christ,  by  His  death,  bound  the  power 
of  sin  and  redeemed  us  from  its  slavery.  How 
rigorous,  therefore,  was  the  justice  of  God  in 
thus  punishing  man’s  rebellion  ; but  how  great 

* Ezech,  xxi.  + Luke  x.  18.  X Isaias  xiv.  12. 


268 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


was  His  goodness  in  restoring  him  to  His  friend- 
ship ! 

In  addition  to  the  penalties  imposed  on  the 
human  race  for  the  sin  of  Adam,  new  and  re- 
peated punishments  have  at  different  times  been 
inflicted  upon  mankind  for  the  crimes  they  have 
committed.  In  the  time  of  Noe  the  whole  world 
was  destroyed  by  the  deluge.*  Fire  and  brim- 
stone from  heaven  consumed  the  wicked  inhabi- 
tants of  Sodom  and  Gomorrha.f  The  earth 
opened  and  swallowed  alive  into  hell  Core,  Da- 
than,  and  Abiron  for  resisting  the  authority  of 
Moses.  J Nadab  and  Abiu,  sons  of  Aaron,  were 
destroyed  by  a sudden  flame  from  the  sanctuary 
because  they  offered  strange  fire  in  the  sacrifice.  § 
Neither  their  priestly  character,  nor  the  sanctity 
of  their  father,  nor  the  intimacy  with  God  of 
their  uncle,  Moses,  could  obtain  for  them  any 
remission  for  their  fault.  Recall  the  example  of 
Ananias  and  Sapphira,  struck  dead  by  God  for 
telling  a lie.  ||  But  the  strongest  proof  of 
the  rigor  of  God’s  justice  was  the  satisfaction 
required  for  sin,  which  was  nothing  less  than 
the  death  of  His  only-begotten  Son.  Think  of 
this  Price  of  man’s  Redemption,  and  you  will 
begin  to  realize  what  sin  is  and  how  the  justice 
of  God  regards  it.  Think,  too,  of  the  eternity 
of  hell,  and  judge  of  the  rigor  of  that  justice 
which  inflicts  such  punishment.  This  justice 
terrifies  you,  but  it  is  no  less  certain  than  the 
mercy  in  which  you  trust.  Yes,  through  end- 
less ages  God  will  look  upon  the  indescribable 

X Num.  xvi. 

1 Acts  v. 


* Geo.  vii. 

§ Levit.  x. 


t Gen.  xix. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


269 


torments  of  the  damned,  but  they  will  excite  in 
Him  no  compassion  ; they  will  not  move  Him  to 
limit  their  sufferings  or  give  them  any  hope  of  re- 
lief. Oh  ! mysterious  depths  of  divine  justice  ! 
Who  can  reflect  upon  them  and  not  tremble  ? 

Another  subject  to  which  I would  call  your 
serious  attention  is  the  state  of  the  world. 
Reflect  on  this,  and  you  will  begin  to  realize  the 
rigors  of  God’s  justice. 

As  an  increase  in  virtue  is  the  effect  and  re- 
ward of  virtue,  so  likewise  an  increase  in  sin  is 
the  effect  and  punishment  of  sin.  Indeed,  it  is 
one  of  the  greatest  chastisements  that  can  be 
inflicted  on  us,  when  we  are  permitted,  through 
blindness  and  passion,  to  rush  headlong  down 
the  broad  road  of  vice,  adding  sin  to  sin  every 
day  and  hour  of  our  lives.  This  is  but  just;  for 
when  man  once  mortally  sins  he  loses  all  right 
to  any  help  from  God.  It  is  owing  solely  to 
the  divine  mercy  when  he  is  converted.  Look, 
therefore,  over  the  world,  and  behold  the  great- 
ness of  its  iniquity.  Think  of  the  millions  who 
are  living  in  infidelity  and  heresy.  Think  how 
many  calling  themselves  Christians  are  daily 
betraying  their  name  by  their  scandalous  lives. 

Why  is  this  sad  condition  permitted  ? Ah  ! 
it  is  owing  to  man’s  crimes.  God  is  disobeyed, 
insulted,  and  mocked  by  the  majority  of  men, 
and  His  long-suffering  justice,  being  wearied  by 
their  wickedness,  permits  them  to  go  on  in 
their  mad  career.  St.  Augustine  is  an  illus- 
trious example  of  this.  “ I was  plunged,”  he 
says,  “in  iniquity,  and  Thy  anger  was  aroused 
against  me,  but  I knew  it  not.  I was  deaf  to 


270 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


the  noise  which  the  chains  of  my  sins  made. 
But  this  ignorance,  this  deafness,  were  the  pun- 
ishments of  my  pride.” 

Reflect  on  this.  Men  act  freely  when  they 
sin,  for  no  man  is  forced  to  do  wrong.  But 
when  they  have  fallen  they  cannot  rise  without 
the  divine  assistance.  Now,  G-od  owes  this  to 
no  man.  It  is  His  gratuitous  gift  when  he  re- 
stores the  sinner  to  His  favor.  Hence  He  but 
exercises  His  justice  when  He  permits  him  to 
remain  in  his  misery,  and  even  to  fall  lower. 

When,  therefore,  we  behold  so  much  iniquity, 
have  we  not  reason  to  feel  that  God’s  justice 
permits  men  to  become  so  blinded  and  harden- 
ed ? I say  permits,  for  man  is  the  cause  of  his 
own  miseries ; God  urges  him  only  to  what  is 
good.  If,  then,  you  perceive  in  yourself  any 
mark  of  such  divine  anger,  be  not  without 
fear.  Remember  that  you  need  no  help  but 
your  own  passions  and  the  devil’s  tempta- 
tions to  carry  you  along  the  broad  road  to  de- 
struction. Stop  while  you  have  time.  Im- 
plore the  divine  mercy  to  aid  you  in  retracing 
your  steps  till  you  discover  that  narrow  way 
which  leads  to  everlasting  life.  Having  found 
it,  walk  manfully  in  it,  ever  mindful  of  the  jus- 
tice of  God,  and  of  the  terrible  truth  that  while 
thousands  throng  the  road  to  death  there  are 
few  who  find  the  way  of  life. 

Tremble  for  your  salvation,  and,  while  always 
maintaining  an  unshaken  hope,  have  no  less  fear 
of  hell.  You  have  no  reason  to  expect  that  God 
should  treat  you  differently  from  other  men. 
Bear  in  mind  the  law  of  His  justice,  as  it  has 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


271 


been  explained,  and  so  live  that  you  may  never 
expose  yourself  to  its  terrible  effects  here  and 
hereafter. 

Be  not  the  victim  of  a vain  confidence  which 
you  may  flatter  yourself  is  hope,  while  it  is 
naught  but  presumption.  Bather,  in  the  words 
of  the  Eternal  Wisdom,  “ be  not  without  fear 
about  sin  forgiven,  and  add  not  sin  upon  sin. 
And  say  not : The  mercy  of  the  Lord  is  great ; 
He  will  have  mercy  on  the  multitude  of  my 
sins.  For  mercy  and  wrath  quickly  come  from 
Him,  and  His  wrath  looketh  upon  sinners.  ” * 
If,  then,  we  must  tremble  even  for  sin  which 
has  been  remitted,  how  is  it  that  you  do 
not  fear  to  add  daily  to  your  crimes  ? And 
mark  well  these  words:  “His  wrath  looketh 
upon  sinners”;  for  as  the  eyes  of  His  mercy 
are  upon  the  good,  so  are  the  eyes  of  His 
anger  upon  the  wicked.  And  this  agrees  with 
what  David  says  in  one  of  the  psalms  : “The 
eyes  of  the  Lord  are  upon  the  just,  and 
his  ears  unto  their  prayers.  But  the  counte- 
nance of  the  Lord  is  against  them  that  do  evil, 
to  cut  off  the  remembrance  of  them  from  the 
earth.”  f “ The  hand  of  God,”  says  the  inspir- 
ed author  of  the  Book  of  Esdras,  “is  upon  all 
them  that  seek  Him  in  goodness  ; and  His  power 
and  strength  and  wrath  upon  all  them  that  for- 
sake Him.”  J Be  reconciled,  therefore,  with  God; 
amend  your  life  ; and  then  you  can  confidently 
hope  for  the  mercy  promised  to  His  faithful 
servants.  “Hope  in  the  Lord  and  do  that 
which  is  good,”  we  are  told  by  the  Psalmist ; 

♦ Eeclus.  v.  5,  6,  7.  t Ps.  xxxiii.  16,  17.  X 1 Esdras  viii.  22. 


272 


The  Sinner's  Guide • 


“ offer  the  sacrifice  of  justice,  and  trust  in  the 
Lord.”*  This  is  hope;  any  other  confidence 
is  presumption.  The  ark  of  the  true  Church 
will  not  save  its  unworthy  members  from  the 
deluge  of  their  iniquities,  nor  can  you  reap  any 
benefit  from  the  mercy  of  God  if  you  seek  His 
protection  in  order  to  sin  with  impunity. 

“ Men  go  to  hell,”  says  St.  Augustine, 
“through  hope,  as  well  as  through  despair: 
through  a presumptuous  hope  during  life,  and 
through  despair  at  the  hour  of  death.”  f I en- 
treat you,  therefore,  0 sinner  ! to  abandon  your 
false  hope,  and  let  God’s  justice  inspire  you 
with  a fear  proportioned  to  the  confidence 
which  His  mercy  excites  in  you.  For,  as  St. 
Bernard  tells  us:  “God  has  two  feet,  one  of 
justice  and  the  other  of  mercy.  We  must  em- 
brace both,  lest  justice  separated  from  mercy 
should  cause  us  to  despair,  or  mercy  without 
justice  should  excite  in  us  presumption.”  J 


CHAPTER  XXVII. 

OF  THOSE  WHO  ALLEGE  THAT  THE  PATH  OF 
VIRTUE  IS  TOO  DIFFICULT. 

AS  virtue  is  entirely  conformable  to  reason, 
there  is  nothing  in  its  own  nature  which 
renders  it  burdensome.  The  difficulty, 
therefore,  which  is  here  objected  arises 
not  from  virtue,  but  from  the  evil  inclinations 

* Ps.  xxxvi.  3,  and  iv.  6 t“  De  Verbo  Dni.,”  Serm.  147.  - 

% “ In  Cantica,”  Serm.  80. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


273 


and  appetites  implanted  in  us  by  sin.  Tims 
the  Apostle  tells  us  : “ The  flesh  opposes  the 
spirit,  and  the  spirit  opposes  the  flesh  ; for 
these  are  contrary  one  to  another.  Eor  I 
am  delighted  with  the  law  of  God,  accord- 
ing to  the  inward  man  ; but  I see ‘another  law 
in  my  members,  fighting  against  the  law  of  my 
mind,  and  captivating  me  in  the  law  of  sin, 
that  is  in  my  members.”  * By  these  words  we 
are  taught  that  the  law  of  God  is  acceptable  to 
the  superior  part  of  the  soul,  the  seat  of  the  will 
and  understanding,  but  that  we  are  opposed,  in 
obeying  it,  by  the  corruption  of  our  appetites 
and  passions,  which  reside  in  the  inferior  part 
of  the  soul.  When  man  rebelled  against  God 
the  passions  rebelled  against  reason,  and  from 
this  arose  all  the  difficulties  which  we  encoun- 
ter in  the  practice  of  virtue.  Thus  we  see  that 
many  who  appreciate  virtue  refuse  to  practise  it, 
just  as  sick  men  earnestly  desire  health,  but  re- 
fuse the  unpalatable  remedies  which  alone  would 
restore  it.  As  this  repugnance  is  the  principal 
barrier  to  virtue,  which,  when  known,  is  always 
valued  and  loved,  if  we  succeed  in  proving  that 
there  is  little  foundation  for  such  repugnance 
we  shall  have  accomplished  a good  work. 

The  principal  cause  of  this  illusion  is  that  we 
only  regard  the  obstacles  to  virtue,  and  do  not 
consider  the  grace  which  God  gives  us  to  over- 
come these  ol3stacles.  The  servant  of  Eliseus 
was  frightened  at  the  numbers  who  were  coming 
armed  against  his  master,  until  God,  at  the  pray- 
er of  the  prophet,  opened  his  eyes  and  caused 

* Gal.  v.  17,  and  Rom.  vii.  22,  23. 


274 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


him  to  see  that  Eliseus  was  surrounded  by  a 
still  greater  number  of  defenders.  A like  fear 
leads  men  to  reject  virtue,  when  they  know  not 
the  succors  which  God  reserves  for  it. 

But  if  the  way  of  virtue  be  so  difficult  how 
could  David  express  himself  as  he  does  ? “ I 

have  been  delighted  in  the  way  of  thy  testi- 
monies, as  in  all  riches.  Thy  commandments, 
0 Lord  ! are  more  to  be  desired  than  gold  and 
many  precious  stones,  and  sweeter  than  honey 
and  the  honeycomb.”  * Not  only  does  he 
award  to  virtue  the  excellence  which  all  ascribe 
to  it,  but  praises  it  for  that  pleasure  and  sweet- 
ness which  the  world  denies  it.  Whoever,  there- 
fore, speaks  of  virtue  as  a heavy  yoke  shows 
that  he  has  not  yet  penetrated  this  mystery. 
Tell  me,  you  who  claim  to  be  a Christian,  why 
did  Christ  come  into  the  world  ? Why  did 
He  shed  His  blood  ? Why  did  He  institute  the 
sacraments  ? Why  did  He  send  down  the  Holy 
Ghost  ? What  is  the  meaning  of  the  Gospel,  of 
grace,  of  the  name  of  Jesus,  Whom  you  adore  ? 
If  you  know  not,  hear  the  Angel,  who  says  : 
“Thou  shalt  call  His  name  Jesus,  for  He 
shall  save  His  people  from  their  sins.”  f 

Now,  what  is  saving  from  sin,  if  not  obtaining 
the  pardon  of  past  faults  and  the  grace  to  avoid 
others  in  the  future  ? What  was  the  end  of 
our  Saviour’s  coming,  if  not  to  help  you  in  the 
work  of  your  salvation  ? Did  He  not  die  on 
the  cross  to  destroy  sin  ? Did  He  not  rise 
from  the  dead  to  enable  you  to  rise  to  a life  of 
grace  ? Why  did  He  shed  His  blood,  if  not  to 

* Ps.  cxviii.  14,  and  xviii.  11.  t St.  Matt.  i.  21. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


275 


heal  the  wounds  of  your  soul  ? Why  did  He 
institute  the  sacraments,  if  not  to  strengthen  you 
against  sin  ? Did  not  His  coming  render  the 
way  to  Heaven  smooth  and  straight,  according  to 
that  of  Isaias,  who  said,  in  prophesying  of  Him, 
“ the  crooked  shall  become  straight,  and  the 
rough  ways  plain  ”?  * Why  did  He  send  the 
Holy  Spirit,  if  not  to  change  you  from  flesh  into 
spirit  ? Why  did  He  send  Him  under  the  form 
of  fire  but  to  enlighten  you,  to  inflame  you,  and 
to  transform  you  into  Himself,  that  thus  your 
soul  might  be  fitted  for  His  own  divine  king- 
dom ? What,  in  fine,  is  the  object  of  grace, 
with  the  infused  virtues  which  flow  from  it, 
but  to  sweeten  the  yoke  of  Christ,  to  facilitate 
the  practice  of  virtue,  to  make  you  joyful  in 
tribulations,  hopeful  in  danger,  and  victorious 
in  temptation  ? This  comprises  the  teaching 
of  the  Gospel.  Adam,  an  earthly  and  sinful  man, 
made  us  earthly  and  sinful.  Jesus  Christ,  a 
heavenly  and  just  Man,  makes  us  spiritual  and 
just.  This  is  the  sum  of  the  doctrine  proclaim- 
ed by  the  Evangelists,  preached  by  the  Apostles, 
and  promised  by  the  Prophets. 

But,  to  study  the  subject  more  in  detail,  what 
is  the  cause  of  the  difficulty  you  find  in  practis- 
ing virtue  ? You  say  it  is  the  evil  inclinations 
of  your  heart,  as  well  as  the  perpetual  conflict  be- 
tween the  spirit  and  the  flesh,  which  has  been  con- 
ceived in  sin.  But  why  should  you  be  dismayed, 
when  you  have  the  infallible  promise  of  God 
that  He  will  take  away  these  corrupt  sources  of 
sin,  and,  giving  you  a new  heart,  will  establish 

* Isaias  xl.  4. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


you  in  strength  and  courage  to  conquer  all  your 
enemies?  “I  will  give  them,”  He  says,  “a 
new  heart,  and  I will  put  a new  spirit  iu  their 
bowels ; and  I will  take  away  the  stony  heart 
out  of  their  flesh,  and  I will  give  them  a heart 
of  flesh,  that  they  may  walk  in  My  command- 
ments, and  keep  My  judgments  and  do  them, 
and  that  they  may  be  My  people,  and  I may  be 
their  God.”  * What,  then,  can  arrest  you  in  the 
path  of  virtue  ? Do  you  fear  that  the  promise 
will  not  be  fulfilled,  or  that  with  the  assistance 
of  God’s  grace  you  will  not  be  able  to  keep  His 
law  ? Your  doubts  are  blasphemous  ; for,  in  the 
first  instance,  you  question  the  truth  of  God’s 
words,  and,  in  the  second,  you  represent  Him  as 
unable  to  fulfil  what  He  promises,  since  you 
think  Him  capable  of  offering  you  succor  in- 
sufficient for  your  needs. 

No,  doubt  not,  but  be  assured  that  in  addi- 
tion to  all  this  He  will  give  you  the  necessary 
strength  to  overcome  the  passions  which  tor- 
ment you.  This  is  one  of  the  principal  benefits 
purchased  for  us  by  the  blood  of  our  Saviour, 
one  of  the  most  precious  fruits  of  the  tree  of 
life.  “ Our  old  man  is  crucified  with  Jesus 
Christ,  that  the  body  of  sin  may  be  destroyed, 
and  that  we  may  serve  sin  no  longer.”  f By 
the  “old  man”  and  “the  body  of  sin”  the 
Apostle  designates  our  sensual  appetite  with  its 
evil  inclinations.  He  tells  us  that  it  was  cruci- 
fied with  Jesus  Christ,  because  the  sacrifice  of 
the  cross  obtained  for  us  grace  and  strength  to 
overcome  it.  This  is  the  victory  which  God 

* Ezech.  xi.  19,  20.  + Rom.  vi.  6. 


. The  Sinner’s  Guide . 277 

* 

promises  us  by  Tsai  as,  who  says  : “ Pear  not,  for 
I am  with  thee  ; turn  not  aside,  for  I am  thy 
God ; I have  strengthened  thee,  and  have  helped 
thee,  and  the  right  hand  of  my  Just  One — Jesus 
Christ — hath  upheld  thee.  Behold  all  that fight 
against  thee  shall  be  confounded  and  ashamed  ; 
they  shall  be  as  nothing,  and  the  men  shall  per- 
ish that  strive  against  thee.  Thou  shalt  seek 
them,  and  shalt  not  find  the  men  that  resist 
thee.  They  shall  be  as  nothing,  and  the  men 
that  war  against  thee  shall  be  as  a thing  con- 
sumed. For  I am  the  Lord  thy  God,  who  take 
thee  by  the  hand  and  say  to  thee  : Fear  not,  for 
I have  helped  thee.”*  With  such  assistance 
who  will  yield  to  discouragement  ? Who  will 
be  daunted  by  fear  of  his  evil  inclinations, 
over  which  grace  obtains  such  a glorious  vic- 
tory ? 

You  will  urge,  perhaps,  that  the  just  are  not 
without  their  secret  failings,  which,  as  Job  says,f 
bear  witness  against  them.  To  this  I reply,  in 
the  words  of  Isaias,  that  “ they  shall  be  as  if 
they  never  had  been.”J  If  they  remain  it  is 
only  to  exercise  our  virtue,  not  to  overcome  us  ; 
to  stimulate  us,  not  to  master  us ; to  serve  as 
an  occasion  of  merit,  not  of  sin  ; for  our  tri- 
umph, not  for  our  downfall  ; in  a word,  to  try 
us,  to  humble  us,  to  make  us  acknowledge  our 
own  weakness  and  render  to  God  the  glory 
and  thanksgiving  which  are  due  Him.  They 
are  a source  of  real  profit  to  us.  For  as  wild 
animals  when  domesticated  can  be  made  most 
serviceable  to  man,  so  our  passions,  when  mode- 

* Isaias  xli.  10-14.  t Job  xvi.  9.  % Isaias  xli.  12. 


278 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . „ 


rated  and  controlled,  aid  ns  in  the  practice  of 
virtue. 

“If  God  be  for  us,,  who  is  against  us?”* 
“ The  Lord  is  my  light  and  my  salvation  ; wThom 
shall  I fear  ? The  Lord  is  the  protector  of  my 
life  ; of  whom  shall  I be  afraid  ? If  armies  in 
camp  should  stand  together  against  me,  my 
heart  shall  not  fear.  If  a battle  should  rise  up 
against  me,  in  this  will  I be  confident.”  f Sure- 
ly, my  dear  Christian,  if  such  promises  do  not 
encourage  you  to  serve  God  your  cowardice  is 
very  great.  If  you  have  no  confidence  in  them 
your  faith  is  very  weak.  God  assures  you  that 
He  will  give  you  a new  spirit,  that  He  will 
change  your  heart  of  stone  into  a heart  of  flesh, 
that  He  will  mortify  your  passions  to  such  a 
degree  that  you  will  not  know  yourself.  You 
will  seek  in  vain  for  the  evil  inclinations  which 
warred  against  you  ; they  will  be  as  a thing 
consumed,  for  He  will  weaken  all  their  forces. 
What  more  can  you  desire  ? Have,  then,  a 
lively  faith  and  firm  hope,  and  cast  yourself 
into  the  arms  of  God. 

But,  perhaps,  you  will  still  object  that  your 
sins  are  so  numerous  that  God  must  refuse  you 
His  grace.  Away  with  such  a thought  ! It  is 
one  of  the  greatest  insults  you  could  offer  to 
God.  By  it  you  virtually  say  either  that  God 
cannot  or  will  not  assist  His  creatures  when 
they  implore  His  aid.  Do  not  yield  to  such  a 
blasphemy.  Rather  let  your  prayer  be,  with  St. 
Augustine  : “ Give  me  grace,  0 Lord  ! to  do 
what  Thou  commandest,  and  command  what 

* Rom.  viii.  31.  t Ps.  xxvi.  1,  2,  3,  4. 


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279 


Thou  pleasest.”  * This  prayer  will  always  be 
answered,  for  God  is  ever  ready  to  co-operate 
with  man  in  doing  good.  God  is  the  principal 
cause,  man  is  the  secondary.  God  aids  man,  as 
a painter  aids  a pupil  whose  hand  he  guides, 
that  he  may  produce  a perfect  work.  Both 
concur  in  the  labor,  but  equal  honor  is  not  due 
to  both.  Thus  does  God  deal  with  man  with- 
out prejudice  to  his  free-will.  When  the  work, 
therefore,  is  accomplished,  he  glorifies  God, 
and  not  himself,  saying  with  the  prophet  : 
“Thou,  0 Lord  ! hast  wrought  all  our  works 
for  us.”  f 

Lean,  then,  on  the  power  of  God,  and  you  will 
ever  fulfil  His  will.  Be  mindful  of  the  words. 
He  addresses  to  you  through  Moses:  “This 
commandment  that  I command  thee  this  day 
is  not  above  thee  nor  far  off  from  thee.  Nor 
is  it  in  Heaven,  that  thou  shouldst  say  : Which 
of  us  can  go  up  to  Heaven  to  bring  it  to  us,  that 
wre  may  hear  and  fulfil  it  in  work  ? Nor  is  it 
beyond  the  sea,  that  thou  mayst  excuse  thyself, 
saying  : Which  of  us  can  cross  the  sea  and 
bring  it  unto  us,  that  we  may  hear  and  do  that 
which  is  commanded  ? But  the  word  is  very 
nigh  unto  thee,  in  thy  mouth  and  in  thy  heart, 
that  thou  mayst  do  it.”  J 

Let  these  words  assure  you  that  however  dif- 
ficult God’s  commandments  may  appear.  His 
grace  will  render  their  observance  very  easy, 
and  if  faithful  to  them  you  will  soon  experience 
that  His  yoke  is  sweet  and  His  burden  light. 

Moreover,  call  to  mind  the  assistance  which 

* “ Conf.,”  L.  x.  c.  31.  t Isaias  xxvi.  12.  % Deut.  xxx.  11-15. 


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charity  affords  us  in  the  pursuit  of  virtue. 
Charity,  or  the  love  of  God,  renders  the  law 
sweet  and  delightful ; for,  as  St.  Augustine  says, 
love  knows  no  fatigue.  How  willingly  men 
fond  of  hunting,  riding,  or  fishing  hear  the 
labor  of  these  sports  ! What  makes  a mother 
insensible  to  the  fatigue  she  endures  for  her 
child  ? What  keeps  a devoted  wife  day  and 
night  at  the  bedside  of  her  sick  husband  ? 
What  excites  even  in  animals  the  solicitude, 
the  self-denial,  with  which  they  care  for  their 
young,  and  the  courage  with  which  they  defend 
them  ? I answer  that  it  is  the  great  power  of 
love.  Strong  by  this  power  was  St.  Paul  when 
he  exclaimed:  “ Who,  then,  shall  separate  us 
from  the  love  of  Christ  ? Shall  tribulation,  or 
distress,  or  famine,  or  nakedness,  or  danger,  or 
persecution,  or  the  sword  ? ” * It  was  love 
which  caused  St.  Dominic  and  so  many  other 
Saints  to  sigh  for  martyrdom.  It  was  love  which 
raised  the  martyrs  above  their  sufferings  and 
gave  them  refreshment  in  the  midst  of  the  most 
cruel  torments.  “ True  love  of  God,”  says  St. 
Peter  Chrysologus,  “ finds  nothing  hard,  no- 
thing bitter,  nothing  difficult.  What  weapon, 
what  wounds,  what  pains,  what  death,  can  con- 
quer true  love  ? As  an  impenetrable  armor  it 
defies  all  attacks,  and  fears  not  even  death,  but 
triumphs  over  all  things.”  f 

But  perfect  love  is  not  content  with  these 
victories.  It  longs  to  combat  for  the  Beloved. 
Hence  the  thirst  of  the  just  for  martyrdom  ; 
hence  their  desire  to  shed  their  blood  for  Him 


* Rom.  viii.  35. 


t Serm.  147,  “ De  Incarnat.' 


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281 


Who  shed  His  precious  Blood  for  them.  And 
when  this  desire  is  not  satisfied  they  become 
their  own  executioners  and  martyr  their  bodies 
with  hunger,  thirst,  cold,  and  every  kind  of 
mortification.  Tims  they  find  their  happiness 
in  suffering  for  Christ. 

Doubtless  this  language  is  not  understood  by 
worldlings.  They  cannot  conceive  that  one 
should  love  what  they  abhor,  or  abhor  what 
they  love.  Yet  so  it  is.  Holy  Scripture  tells 
us  that  the  Egyptians  worshipped  certain  ani- 
mals as  gods’.  The  Israelites  justly  called  these 
false  gods  abominations,  and  sacrificed  them  to 
the  honor  of  the  true  God.  In  like  manner 
the  virtuous  regard  as  abominations  the  idols 
which  the  world  adores — pleasures,  riches,  and 
honors — and  sacrifice  them  to  the  glory  of  God. 
Let  him,  therefore,  who  would  offer  a pleasing 
sacrifice  to  God  observe  what  the  world  adores, 
and. let  him  offer  that  as  a victim  to  the  Lord. 
It  was  thus  that  the  Apostles  acted  when  they 
came  forth  from  the  council,  rejoicing  that  they 
had  received  the  honor  of  suffering  for  Christ. 
Can  you,  then,  believe  that  the  power  which 
rendered  the  prison,  the  scourge,  the  stake, 
welcome  to  God’s  servants,  will  not  be  able  to 
lighten  the  yoke  of  His  commandments  for 
you  ? Will  not  that  power  which  supported 
the  just  under  fasts,  vigils,  austerities,  and  suf- 
ferings of  every  kind  enable  you  to  bear  the 
burden  of  the  commandments  ? Alas  ! how 
feebly  you  comprehend  the  force  of  charity  and 
divine  grace  ! 

But  let  us  suppose  that  the  path  of  virtue  is 


282 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


sown  with  difficulties  and  hardships.  Will  this 
prove  that  you  ought  not  to  walk  in  it  ? Oh  ! 
no.  Are  you  not  expected  to  do  something  for 
the  salvation  of  your  soul  ? Will  you  not  do  at 
least  as  much  for  this  grand  purpose,  for  eter- 
nity, as  you  do  for  your  body  and  for  time, 
which  for  you  is  rapidly  passing  away  and  will 
soon  leave  you  at  the  tomb  ? What  is  a little 
suffering  in  this  life,  if  you  are  spared  everlast- 
ing torments  ? Think  of  the  rich  glutton,  now 
burning  in  hell.  What  would  he  not  do  to  ex- 
piate his  sins,  could  he  return  to  this  world  ? 
There  is  no  reason  why  you  should  not  now  do 
as  much,  if  you  feel  that  you  have  ever  offend- 
ed God. 

Consider,  moreover,  what  God  has  done  for 
you  and  what  He  has  promised  you?)  Reflect 
on  the  many  sins  you  have  committed.  Think 
of  the  sufferings  endured  by  the  saints,  parti- 
cularly the  Saint  of  saints.  If  such  thoughts 
will  not  make  you  blush  for  your  past  life  of 
ease,  and  incite  you  to  suffer  something  for  the 
love  of  God,  I know  not  what  will  move  you  to 
abandon  the  things  in  wdiich  you  formerly  de- 
lighted and  by  which  you  formerly  sinned. 
Thus  St.  Bernard  tells  us  that  the  tribulations 
of  this  life  bear  no  proportion  to  the  glory  we 
hope  for,  to  the  torments  we  fear,  to  the  sins 
we  have  committed,  or  to  the  benefits  we  have 
received  from  our  Creator.  Any  of  these  con- 
siderations ought  to  suffice  to  make  us  embrace 
a life  of  virtue,  however  hard  and  laborious. 

Though  we  acknowledge  that  in  every  condi- 
tion of  life  there  are  trials  and  difficulties,  yet 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


283 


the  path  of  the  wicked  is  far  more  thickly 
strewn  with  hardships  than  is  that  of  the  just. 
One  necessarily  grows  weary  in  a long  journey, 
but  a blind  man  who  stumbles  at  every  step 
will  certainly  tire  sooner  than  the  traveller  who 
clearly  sees  and  guards  against  the  obstacles  in 
the  way.  In  the  journey  of  life  we  must  ex- 
pect to  feel  fatigue  and  experience  hardships 
until  we  reach  our  destination.  The  sinner, 
guided  by  passion,  wralks  blindly,  and  therefore 
often  falls.  The  just  man,  guided  by  reason, 
sees  and  avoids  the  rocks  and  precipices,  and 
thus  travels  with  less  fatigue  aud  more  safety. 
“The  path  of  the  just,”  says  Solomon,  “as  a 
shining  light  goeth  forward  and  increaseth  even 
to  perfect  day  ; but  the  way  of  the  wicked  is 
darksome,  and  they  know  not  where  they  fall.”* 
And  not  only  is  it  dark,  but  also  slippery,  as 
holy  David  tells  us.f  Judge,  then,  what  a dif- 
ference there  is  between  these  two  paths.  Be- 
hold how  excessive  are  the  difficulties  wdiich 
beset  the  wicked.  Reflect,  moreover,  that  the 
just  find  a thousand  means  of  alleviating  their 
trials  which  the  sinner  does  not  experience. 
They  have  God’s  fatherly  providence  to  guide 
them  ; the  grace  of  the  Holy  Spirit  to  enlight- 
en and  encourage  them  ; the  sacraments  to  sanc- 
tify them  ; the  divine  consolations  to  refresh 
them  ; the  example  of  the  pious  to  animate 
them  ; the  writings  of  the  Saints  to  instruct 
them  ; the  testimony  of  a good  conscience  to 
comfort  them  ; the  hope  of  future  glory  to  sus- 
tain them,  besides  the  numerous  other  favors 

* Prov.  iv.  18, 19.  t Ps.  xxxiv.  6. 


284 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


which  the  virtuous  enjoy.  Hence  they  are  ever 
ready  to  sing  with  the  prophet,  “ How  sweet, 
0 Lord  ! are  Thy  words  to  my  palate,  more  than 
honey  to  my  mouth.”  * 

Reflect  on  these  truths,  and  you  will  soon 
understand  the  Scriptures  where  they  seem  to 
speak  in  contradictory  terms  of  the  ease  or 
difficulty  of  practising  virtue.  At  one  time 
David  says  : “.For  the  sake  of  the  words  of  Thy 
lips  I have  kept  hard  ways.”  f At  another  : “I 
have  been  delighted  in  the  way  of  Thy  testi- 
monies, as  in  all  riches.”  J Both  declarations 
are  true,  for  the  path  of  virtue  is  difficult  to 
nature,  easy  to  grace.  Our  Saviour  Himself 
tells  us  this  when  He  says  : “ My  yoke  is  sweet 
and  My  burden  light.”  § By  the  word  yoke  He 
expresses  the  difficulty  which  nature  experi- 
ences. By  calling  it  sweet  He  shows  us  the 
power  of  grace  to  enable  us  to  carry  it.  This 
He  accomplishes  by  sharing  our  burden,  accord- 
ing to  that  of  the  prophet : “I  will  be  to  them 
as  one  that  taketh  off  the  yoke  from  their 
jaws.”  ||  Is  it,  then,  astonishing  that  that  yoke 
is  light  which  God  Himself  bears  ? The  Apostle 
experienced  this  when  he  said  : “In  all  things 
we  suffer  tribulation,  but  are  not  distressed  ; we 
are  straitened,  but  are  not  destitute  ; we  suffer 
persecution,  but  are  not  forsaken ; we  are 
cast  down,  but  we  perish  not.”^[  Behold  on 
one  side  the  weight  of  tribulation  and  on  the 
other  the  sweetness  which  God  communicates 
to  it. 

* Ps.  cxviii.  103.  + Ps.  xvi.  4.  X Ps.  cxviii.  14. 

§ St.  Matt.  xi.  30.  j Osee  xi.  4.  i 2 Cor.  iv.  8,  9. 


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285 


Isaias  expressed  this  even  more  clearly : 
“ They  that  hope  in  the  Lord  shall  renew  their 
strength ; they  shall  take  wings  as  eagles  ; they 
shall  run  and  not  be  weary;  they  shall  walk 
and  not  faint.”*  Learn  from  this  that  the 
yoke  is  removed  by  grace,  and  the  strength  of 
the  flesh  is  changed  into  that  of  the  spirit,  or 
rather  the  strength  of  God  replaces  that  of 
man.  Remember  also  that  the  prophet  says 
the  just  will  run,  though  taking  no  pains  ; they 
will  walk,  and  not  faint.  Be  not  dismayed, 
therefore,  by  the  roughness  of  a road  on  which 
you  find  so  many  aids  to  render  your  journey 
smooth  and  pleasant. 

If,  like  the  Apostle  St.  Thomas,  you  are  still 
incredulous  and  ask  for  farther  proof,  I will 
not  deny  it.  Take,  for  example,  a man  who  has 
led  a wicked  life,  but  who  has  finally  turned  to 
God  by  the  power  of  grace.  Such  a man  will 
be  an  excellent  judge  in  this  matter,  for  he  has 
not  only  heard  of  these  two  lives,  but  he  has  ex- 
perienced them.  Ask  him  which  he  found  the 
sweeter.  He  will  tell  you  of  the  marvels  effected 
in  the  depths  of  his  soul  by  grace.  There  is 
nothing  in  the  world  more  astonishing,  no  more 
interesting  spectacle,  than  that  afforded  by  the 
action  of  grace  upon  the  soul  of  a just  man. 
How  it  transforms  him,  sustains  him,  strength- 
ens him,  and  comforts  him  ! How  it  subdues 
and  governs  him  exteriorly  and  interiorly  ! 
How  it  alters  his  affections,  making  him  love 
what  he  formerly  abhorred,  and  abhor  what  he 
formerly  loved  ! How  strong  it  makes  him  in 

* Isaias  xl,  31. 


286 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


combat ! What  peace  it  gives  him ! What 
light  it  pours  into  his  soul  to  enable  him  to 
learn  God’s  will,  to  realize  the  vanity  of  the 
world,  and  to  set  a true  value  on  the  spiritual 
blessings  which  he  formerly  despised ! And 
still  more  wonderful  is  the  short  space  of  time 
in  which  these  great  changes  are  made.  It  is 
not  necessary  to  spend  long  years  in  study,  or  to 
wait  until  old  age  helps  us  by  experience.  Men 
in  the  fire  of  youth  are  sometimes  so  changed 
in  the  space  of  a few  days  that  they  hardly 
seem  the  same  beings.  Hence  St.  Cyprian  says 
that  the  sinner  finds  himself  converted  even  be- 
fore he  has  learned  how  to  bring  about  such  a 
change,  for  it  is  the  work  of  grace,  which  needs 
neither  study  nor  time,  but  which  acts  in  an 
instant,  like  a spiritual  charm. 

St.  Cyprian,  already  mentioned,  who  was  for 
a time  a prey  to  the  illusions  of  the  world, 
gives,  while  writing  to  his  friend  Donatus, 
some  beautiful  and  forcible  thoughts  on  this 
subject  : 

“When  I walked  in  darkness,  when  I was 
tossed  about  by  the  tempests  of  this  world,  I 
knew  not  what  my  life  was,  because  I was  de- 
prived of  light  and  truth.  I regarded  as  im- 
possible all  that  God’s  grace  promised  to  do  for 
my  conversion  and  salvation.  I would  not  be- 
lieve that  man  could  be  born  again,*  and  by 
virtue  of  Baptism  receive  a new  life  and  spirit, 
which,  while  leaving  his  exterior  untouched, 
would  entirely  reform  him  within.  I urged 
that  it  was  impossible  to  uproot  vices  implanted 

* St.  John  iii.  5. 


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287 


in  us  by  our  corrupt  nature  and  confirmed  by 
the  habits  of  years.  Is  temperance  possible,  I 
asked,  to  one  long  accustomed  to  a sumptuous 
table  ? Will  he  who  has  been  clothed  in  purple 
willingly  put  on  a plain  and  modest  dress  ? 
Will  he  who  found  ad  his  happiness  in  honors 
and  dignities  willingly  forego  them  and  be  con- 
tent to  lead  a quiet  and  obscure  life  ? Will  he 
who  was  accustomed  to  travel  wTith  a grand 
retinue  now  be  content  to  travel  unattended  ? 
Former  habits  will  cling  to  him  and  struggle 
for  mastery.  Intemperance  will  solicit  him, 
pride  will  inflate  him,  honors  will  allure  him, 
anger  will  inflame  him,  and  sensuality  will  blind 
and  overpower  him.  These  were  the  reflections 
in  which  I frequently  indulged.  I was  bound 
by  numerous  habits  of  vice  from  which  I felt  I 
never  could  be  freed,  and  which  I encouraged 
and  strengthened  by  this  very  distrust.  But 
my  sins  were  no  sooner  washed  away  in  the 
waters  of  Baptism  than  a new  light  shone  upon 
my  soul,  now  purified  from  all  stains.  By  the 
reception  of  the  Holy  Spirit  I was  born  to  a 
new  life.  Suddenly,  as  if  by  a miracle,  doubt 
gave  place  to  certainty  ; my  darkness  was  dissi- 
pated ; what  heretofore  appeared  difficult  had 
now  become  easy  ; the  insurmountable  obstacles 
I feared  had  vanished  completely.  I clearly 
saw  that  the  life  of  the  flesh  with  all  its  failings 
was  of  man,  and  that  the  new  life  to  which  I had 
come  was  of  God.  You  know,  dear  Donatus, 
from  what  the  Holy  Spirit  has  delivered  me, 
and  what  He  has  bestowed  upon  me.  He  has 
delivered  me  from  the  slavery  of  vice  and  has 


288 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


restored  me  to  the  true  liberty  of  virtue.  You 
know  all  this,  and  that,  so  far  from  boasting, 
I am  only  publishing  the  glory  of  God.  It  is 
not  pride  but  a sentiment  of  gratitude  which 
prompts  me  to  speak  of  this  wonderful  trans- 
formation, which  is  due  only  to  God.  For  it  is 
evident  that  the  power  to  abandon  sin  is  no  less 
the  effect  of  divine  grace  than  the  will  to  com- 
mit it  is  the  effect  of  human  frailty.”  * 

These  words  of  St.  Cyprian  perfectly  describe 
the  illusion  which  paralyzes  the  efforts  of  many 
Christians.  They  measure  the  difficulties  of 
virtue  according  to  their  own  strength,  and  thus 
deem  its  acquisition  impossible.  • They  do  not 
consider  that  if  they  firmly  resolve  to  abandon 
sin,  and  cast  themselves  into  the  strong  arms  of 
God’s  mercy,  His  grace  will  smooth  the  rough- 
ness of  their  way  and  remove  all  the  obstacles 
which  formerly  alarmed  them.  The  example 
of  St.  Cyprian  proves  this,  for  the  truth  of  what 
he  relates  is  incontestable.  If  you  imitate  his 
sincere  return  to  God,  the  grace  which  was 
given  him  will  not  be  denied  to  you. 

Another  no  less  remarkable  example  is  that  of 
St.  Augustine,  who,  in  his  “ Confessions,”  tells 
us  that  when  he  began  to  think  seriously  of  leav- 
ing the  world  a thousand  difficulties  presented 
themselves  to  his  mind.  On  one  side  appeared 
the  past  pleasures  of  his  life,  saying:  “Will 
you  part  from  us  for  ever  ? Shall  we  no  longer 
be  your  companions  ? ” On  the  other  he  beheld 
virtue  with  a radiant  countenance,  accompanied 
by  a multitude  of  persons  of  every  state  in  life 

* L.  2,  Ep.  2. 


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289 


wlio  had  led  pure  lives,  and  a voice  said  to  him  : 
“ Can  you  not  do  what  so  many  others  have 
done  ? Was  their  strength  in  themselves  ? Was 
it  not  God  Who  enabled  them  to  do  what  they 
did  ? While  you  continue  to  rely  upon  your- 
self you  must  necessarily  fall.  Cast  yourself 
without  fear  upon  God  ; He  will  not  abandon 
you.”  In  the  midst  of  this  struggle  the  Saint 
tells  us  that  he  began  to  weep  bitterly,  and, 
throwing  himself  upon  the  ground,  he  cried 
from  the  depth  of  his  heart:  “How  long,  0 
Lord  ! how  long  wilt  Thou  be  angry  ? Remem- 
ber not  my  past  iniquities.  IIow  long  shall 
I continue  to  repeat,  To-morrow,  to-morrow  ? 
Why  not  now  ? Why  should  not  this  very  hour 
witness  the  end  of  my  disorders  ? ” * 

No  sooner  had  Augustine  taken  this  resolu- 
tion than  his  heart  was  changed,  so  that  he 
ceased  to  feel  the  stings  of  the  flesh  or  any  af- 
fection for  the  pleasures  of  the  world.  He  was 
entirely  freed  from  all  the  irregular  desires 
wdiich  formerly  tormented  him,  and  broke  forth 
into  thanksgiving  for  the  liberty  which  had 
been  restored  to  him  : “ 0 Lord  ! I am  Thy  ser- 
vant ; I am  Thy  servant  and  the  son  of  Thy 
handmaid.  Thou  hast  broken  my  bonds.  I 
will  sacrifice  to  Thee  a sacrifice  of  praise. ”f 
“ Let  my  heart  and  my  tongue  praise  Thee. 
Let  all  my  bones  say  : Who  is  like  unto  Thee, 
0 Lord  ? Where  was  my  free-will  all  these 
years,  0 Jesus,  my  Redeemer  and  Helper,  that 
it  did  not  return  to  Thee  ? From  what  an  abyss 
hast  Thou  suddenly  drawn  it,  causing  me  to 

* “Confess.,”  L.  viii.  c.  11.  + Ps.  cxv. 


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bend  my  neck  to  Thy  sweet  yoke  and  to  take 
upon  me  the  easy  burden  of  Thy  law  ? How  de- 
lighted I am  with  the  absence  of  those  pleasures 
which  I formerly  sought  with  so  much  eager- 
ness ! How  I rejoice  no  longer  to  possess  those 
follies  which  I formerly  trembled  to  lose  ! 0 

Thou  true  and  sovereign  Good!  Thou  hast  dri- 
ven all  false  pleasures  from  my  soul  ; Thou  hast 
banished  them  and  hast  Thyself  taken  their 
place,  0 Joy  exceeding  all'  joy  ! 0 Beauty  ex- 
ceeding all  beauty  ! ” * 

Behold  the  efficacy  of  grace  ! What,  then, 
prevents  you  from  imitating  the  example  of 
these  great  Saints  ? If  you  believe  what  I have 
related,  and  that  the  grace  which  wrought  such 
a change  in  St.  Augustine  is  at  the  disposal  of 
all  who  earnestly  seek  it,  what  is  there  to  pre- 
vent you  from  breaking  your  sinful  bonds  and 
embracing  this  Sovereign  Good  Who  so  solici- 
tously calls  you  ? Why  do  you  prefer  by  a hell 
on  earth  to  gain  another  hell  hereafter,  rather 
than  by  a paradise  here  to  gain  Heaven  here- 
after ? Be  not  discouraged.  Put  your  trust  in 
God,  and  resolutely  enter  the  path  of  virtue. 
Have  an  unshaken  confidence  that  you  will 
meet  Him  there  with  open  arms,  to  receive 
you  as  the  father  received  his  prodigal  son.f 
Were  a charlatan  to  assert  that  he  could  teach 
the  art  of  changing  copper  into  gold,  how  many 
would  be  eager  to  test  his  suggestion  ! God 
offers  to  teach  us  the  art  of  changing  earth  into 
Heaven  for  our  welfare,  of  converting  us  from 
flesh  into  spirit,  from  men  into  Angels,  and  how 

* “ Conf.,”  L.  ix.  t St.  Luke  xv. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


291 


many  there  are  who  refuse  to  hear  Him  ! Be 
not  of  their  unhappy  number. 

Sooner  or  later  you  must  acknowledge  this 
truth,  if  not  in  this  life,  surely  in  the  next. 
Think,  therefore,  of  the  confusion  and  anguish 
which  on  the  day  of  judgment  will  overwhelm 
all  those  who  will  then  have  been  condemned 
for  abandoning  the  path  of  virtue.  Too  late 
they  will  recognize  how  excellent  is  this  path, 
and  how  far  it  exceeds  that  of  sin,  not  only  for 
the  happiness  it  affords  in  this  life,  but  for  the 
security  with  which  it  leads  us  to  eternal  joy. 


CHAPTER  XXVIII. 

OF  THOSE  WHO  REFUSE  TO  PRACTISE  VIRTUE 
BECAUSE  THEY  LOVE  THE  WORLD. 

IF  we  examine  the  hearts  of  those  who  refuse 
to  practise  virtue  we  shall  frequently  find  a 
delusive  love  for  the  world  to  be  one  of  the 
chief  causes  of  their  faint-heartedness.  I 
call  it  a delusive  love  because  it  is  founded  on 
that  imaginary  good  which  men  suppose  they 
will  find  in  the  'things  of  this  world.  Let  them 
examine  with  closer  attention  these  objects  of 
tneir  affection,  and  they  will  soon  recognize  that 
they  ha ve  been  pursuing  shadows.  If  we  study 
the  happiness  of  the  world,  even  under  its  most 
favorable  aspects,  we  shall  find  that  it  is  ever  ac- 
companied by  six  drawbacks,  which  tend  very 
much  to  lessen  its  sweetness.  No  one  will  ques- 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


'tion  the  truth  of  this  ; for  who  can  deny  that  the 
happiness  of  this  life  is  brief,  that  it  is  exposed 
to  changes,  that  it  leads  to  danger  or  blindness, 
and  that  it  frequently  ends  in  sin  and  deceit  ? 

As  to  the  first  of  these,  who  will  say  that 
that  is  enduring  which  at  best  must  end  with 
the  brief  career  of  man  on  earth  ? Ah  ! we  all 
know  the  shortness  of  human  life,  for  how 
few  attain  even  a hundred  years?  There  have 
been  popes  who  reigned  but  a month ; bish- 
ops who  have  survived  their  consecration  but 
little  longer  ; and  married  persons  whose  fune- 
rals have  followed  their  weddings  in  still  less 
time.  These  are  not  remarkable  occurrences 
of  the  past  only ; they  are  witnessed  in  every  age. 
Let  us  suppose,  however,  that  your  life  will  be 
one  of  the  longest.  “What,”  asks  St.  Chry- 
sostom, “are  one  hundred,  two  hundred,  four 
hundred  years  spent  in  the  pleasures  of  this 
world  compared  to  eternity  ?”  For  “ if  a man 
live  many  years,  and  have  rejoiced  in  them  all, 
he  must  rememljer  the  darksome  time,  and  the 
many  days  ; which  when  they  shall  come,  the 
things  passed  shall  be  accused  of  vanity.”  * All 
happiness,  however  great,  is  but  vanity  when 
compared  to  eternity.  Sinners  themselves  ac- 
knowledge this  : “ Being  born,  forthwith  wTe 
ceased  to  be ; we  are  consumed  in  our  wicked- 
ness.” f How  short,  then,  will  this  life  seem  to 
the  wicked  ! It  will  appear  as  if  they  had  been 
hurried  immediately  from  the  cradle  to  the  grave. 
All  the  pleasures  and  satisfactions  of  this  world 
will  then  seem  to  them  but  a drehm.  Isaiasad- 


* Eccles.  xi.  8. 


t Wisdom  v.  13. 


The  Shiner's  Guide. 


293 


mirably  expressed  this  when  he  said:  “As  he 
that  is  hungry  dreametli  and  eateth,  but  when 
he  is  awake  his  soul  is  empty ; and  as  he  that 
is  thirsty  dreametli  and  drinketh,  and  after  he 
is  awake  is  yet  faint  with  thirst,  and  his  soul  is 
empty,  so  shall  be  the  multitude  that  fought 
against  Mount  Sion.”  * Their  prosperity  will 
be  so  brief  that  it  will  seem  like  a flee  ting- 
dream.  What  more,  in  fact,  remains  of  the 
glory  of  monarchs  and  of  princes  ? “Where,” 
asks  the  prophet,  “ are  the  princes  of  the  na- 
tions, and  they  that  rule  over  the  beasts  that 
are  upon  the  earth  ? They  that  take  their  diT 
version  with  the  birds  of  the  air  ; that  hoard  up 
silver  and  gold  wherein  men  trust,  and  there  is 
no  end  of  their  getting;  that  work  in  silver  and 
are  solicitous,  and  their  works  are  unsearchable  ? 
They  are  cut  ofl:  and  are  gone  down  to  hell, 
and  others  are  risen  up  in  their  place.”  f What 
has  become  of  the  wise  men,  the  scholars,  the 
searchers  into  the  secrets  of  nature  ? Where  is 
the  famous  Alexander  ? Where  is  the  mighty 
Assuerus  ? Where  are  the  Caesars  and  the  other 
kings  of  the  earth  ? What  does  it  now  avail  them 
that  they  lived  in  pomp  and  glory,  that  they  had 
legions  of  soldiers,  and  servants,  and  flatterers 
almost  without  number  ? All  have  vanished 
like  a shadow  or  a dream.  In  one  moment  all 
that  constitutes  human  happiness  fades  away 
as  the  mist  before  the  morning  sun.  Behold, 
then,  dear  Christian,  how  brief  it  is. 

Consider  also  the  innumerable  changes  to 
which  human  happiness  is  exposed  in  this  val- 

* Isaias  xxix.  8.  t Baruch  iii.  16-20. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


ley  of  tears,  this  land  of  exile,  this  tempestuous 
sea  which  we  call  the  world.  The  days  of  man 
on  earth  scarcely  suffice  to  number  his  sorrows, 
for  almost  every  hour  brings  new  cares,  new 
anxieties,  or  new  miseries.  Who  can  fitly  de- 
scribe these  ? Who  can  count  all  the  infirmi- 
ties of  the  body,  all  the  passions  of  the  soul,  all 
the  disasters  which  come  upon  us  not  only  from 
our  enemies,  but  even  from  our  friends  and 
from  ourselves  ? One  disputes  your  inheri- 
tance ; another  attempts  your  life.  You  are 
pursued  by  hatred,  calumny,  envy,  revenge, 
and  by  a lying  tongue,  the  most  dangerous  of 
all.  Add  to  these  miseries  the  innumerable 
accidents  which  daily  befall  us.  One  man 
loses  an  eye  ; another  an  arm  ; a third  one  is 
thrown  from  a horse  or  falls  from  a window  ; 
while  still  another  loses  all  he  possesses  through 
succoring  a friend.  If  you  would  know  more 
of  these  miseries  ask  worldlings  to  tell  you  the 
sum  of  their  sorrows  and  their  joys.  If  balanced 
in  the  scales  of  truth  you  will  find  that  their 
disappointments  far  outweigh  their  pleasures. 
Since,  then,  human  life  is  so  short,  and  so  con- 
stantly beset  with  miseries,  what  possibility  is 
there  of  knowing  real  hapjuness  in  this  world  ? 
The  vicissitudes  of  which  wTe  have  been  speak- 
ing are  common  to  the  good  aud  the  wicked, 
for  both  sail  on  the  same  sea  and  are  exposed  to 
the  same  storms.  There  are  other  miseries, 
however,  which,  as  the  fruits  of  iniquity,  are 
the  portion  of  the  wicked.  “We  wearied  our- 
selves in  the  way  of  iniquity  and  destruction,” 
they  tell  us  by  the  Wise  Man,  “and  have 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


295 


walked  through  hard  ways,  but  the  way  of  the 
Lord  we  have  not  known.”*  Tims,  while  the 
just  pass  from  a paradise  in  this  life  to  Heaven 
in  the  next,  from  the  peace  of  virtue  to  the 
rest  of  their  eternal  reward,  the  wicked  pass 
from  a hell  in  this  life  to  an  eternal  hell  in  the 
next,  from  the  torments  of  an  evil  conscience 
to  the  unspeakable  tortures  of  the  undying 
worm. 

Different  causes  multiply  the  miseries  of  the 
sinner.  God,  Who  is  a just  Judge,  sends  them 
suffering,  that  crime  may  not  remain  unaveng- 
ed ; for  though  the  punishment  of  sin  is  gene- 
rally reserved  for  the  next  world,  it  sometimes 
begins  in  this.  The  government  of  Divine 
Providence  equally  embraces  nations  and  indi 
viduals.  Thus  we  see  that  sin,  wThen  it  has 
become  general,  brings  upon  the  world  universal 
scourges,  such  as  famines,  wars,  floods,  pesti 
lences,  and  heresies.  God  also  frequently  in- 
flicts on  individuals  punishments  proportioned 
to  their  crimes.  For  this  reason  He  said  to 
Cain  : “ If  thou  do  well,  shalt  thou  not  re- 
ceive ? but  if  ill,  shall  not  sin  ” — that  is,  thy 
punishment — “ forthwith  be  present  at  the 
door?”f  Moses  gave  a like  warning  to  the 
Jewish  people  : “ Thou  shalt  know  that  the 
Lord  thy  God  is  a strong  and  faithful  God, 
keeping  His  covenant  and  mercy  to  them  that 
love  Him,  and  to  them  that  keep  His  com- 
mandments, unto  a thousand  generations  ; and 
repaying  forthwith  them  that  hate  Him,  so  as 
to  destroy  them  without  farther  delay,  imme- 
* Wisdom  v.  7.  t Gen.  iv.  7. 


296 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


diately  rendering  to  them  what  they  deserve.”  * 
Observe  how  strongly  the  idea  of  punishment 
in  this  life  is  shown  by  the  expressions  forth- 
with, without  delay , immediately . They  clear- 
ly indicate  that  besides  the  future  punish- 
ment of  their  crimes  the  wicked  will  suffer  for 
them  even  in  this  world.  Hence  the  many 
calamities  which  they  endure.  Hence  the  in- 
cessant trials,  anxieties,  fatigues,  and  neces- 
sities, of  which  they  are  keenly  sensible,  and 
which,  in  their  blindness,  they  regard  as  the 
inevitable  conditions  of  nature  rather  than  the 
punishment  of  their  sins.  For  as  they  do  not 
recognize  natural  advantages  as  benefits  from 
God,  and  therefore  do  not  thank  Him  for  them, 
neither  do  they  regard  the  calamities  which 
overtake  them  as  the  marks  of  His  displeasure, 
and  consequently  receive  no  benefit  from  them. 

Other  misfortunes,  such  as  imprisonment, 
banishment,  less  of  fortune,  come  upon  the 
wicked  through  God’s  representatives  upon 
earth,  the  ministers  of  justice.  Dearly  bought, 
then,  is  the  pleasure  of  sin,  for  which  they  pay 
a hundred-fold  even  in  this  life. 

Man’s  irregular  appetites  and  passions  are 
another  and  inexhaustible  source  of  afflictions. 
What,  in  fact,  can  you  expect  from  immoderate 
affections,  inordinate  sorrow,  groundless  fears, 
uncertain  hopes,  unreasonable  solicitude,  but 
violent  shocks  and  continual  anxieties  which 
take  from  man  all  freedom  and  peace  of  heart  ? 
Living  in  the  midst  of  tumult,  he  scarcely  ever 
prays,  he  knows  not  the  sweets  of  repose. 

* Deut.  vii.  9, 10. 


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297 


From  man  himself,  from  liis  uncontrolled  appe- 
tites, spring  all  these  miseries.  Judge,  then, 
what  happiness  is  possible  under  such  condi- 
tions. 

Were  there  only  bodily  sufferings  to  harass 
us  we  would  not  have  so  much  reason  to  fear. 
But  the  world  is  full  of  dangers  that  are  far 
more  terrible,  because  they  menace  the  soul. 
Of  these  the  prophet  spoke  when  he  said  : 
‘‘  He  shall  rain  snares  upon  sinners. How 
numerous  must  be  these  snares  which  the  holy 
king  compares  to  drops  of  rain  ! He  expressly 
tells  us  that  they  shall  rain  upon  sinners,  for 
they  are  so  indifferent  in  watching  over  their 
hearts  and  guarding  their  senses,  so  careless  in 
avoiding  the  occasions  of  sin  or  providing 
themselves  with  spiritual  remedies,  that  they 
rush  into  the  very  midst  of  the  flames  of  the 
world,  and  therefore  cannot  but  encounter  a 
thousand  dangers.  Snares  exist  for  them  every- 
where— in  youth,  in  old  age  ; in  riches,  in  pov- 
erty ; in  honor,  in  dishonor ; in  society,  in  soli- 
tude ; in  adversity,  in  prosperity  ; in  the  eyes,  in 
the  tongue,  in  all  the  senses.  Were  God  to 
enlighten  us  as  he  did  St.  Anthony,  we  would 
see  the  world  covered  with  snares  like  a net- 
work, and  we  would  exclaim  with  the  holy 
solitary  : Who,  0 Lord  ! can  avoid  all  these  ? 
Behold  the  cause  of  the  destruction  of  the 
many  souls  who  daily  perish  ! St.  Bernard 
said  with  tears  that  there  was  hardly  one  ship 
out  of  ten  lost  on  the  sea,  but  on  the  ocean  of 
life  there  is  hardly  one  soul  saved  out  of  ten. 

* Ps.  x.  7. 


298 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


Who,  then,  will  not  tremble  in  the  midst  of  so 
many  perils  ? Who  will  not  seek  to  avoid  the 
treacherous  snares  of  this  world  ? Who  will 
venture  to  go  unarmed  into  the  midst  of  so 
many  enemies  ? Who  will  not  fly  from  this 
Egypt,*  from  this  Babylon, f from  the  flames 
of  this  Sodom  and  Gomorrha  ? J “ Can  a 
man, ” says  Solomon,  “hide  fire  in  his  bosom, 
and  his  garments  not  burn  ? Or  can  he  walk 
upon  hot  coals,  and  his  feet  not  be  burnt  ? ” § 
“ He  that  toucheth  pitch  shall  be  defiled  with 
it,  and  he  that  hath  fellowship  with  the  proud 
shall  put  on  pride.”  || 

The  blindness  and  darkness  which  prevail  in 
the  world  render  these  snares  still  more  danger- 
ous. This  blindness  of  worldlings  is  represented 
by  the  Egyptian  darkness,  which  was  so  thick  that 
it  could  be  felt,  and  which,  during  the  three  days 
it  lasted,  prevented  every  one  from  leaving  the 
place  in  which  he  was  or  beholding  the  face  of 
his  neighbor. T The  darkness  which  reigns  in 
the  world  is  even  more  palpable.  For  could 
there  be  greater  blindness  than  to  believe  what 
we  believe  and  yet  live  as  wre  are  living  ? Is  it 
not  a blindness  equal  to  madness  to  pay  so 
much  attention  to  men  and  to  be  so  wholly  re- 
gardless of  God  ? to  be  so  careful  in  the  ob- 
servance of  human  laws  and  so  indifferent  in 
the  observance  of  God’s  laws  ? to  labor  so 
earnestly  for  the  body,  which  is  but  dust,  and 
to  neglect  the  soul,  which  is  the  image  of  the 
Divine  Majesty  ? to  amass  treasure  upon 

* Exod.  xii  t Jer.  li.  9.  t Gen.  xix. 

§ Prov.  vi.  27,  28.  | Ecclus.  xiii.  1.  i Exod.  x.  21,  22,  23. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


299 


treasure  for  this  life,  which  may  end  to-morrow, 
and  to  lay  up  nothing  for  the  life  to  come, 
which  will  endure  for  all  eternity  ? to  live  as 
if  we  were  never  to  die,  wholly  forgetful  of  the 
irrevocable  sentence  which  immediately  follows 
death  ? If  his  life  were  never  to  end  the 
sinner  could  scarcely  act  with  more  unbridled 
license.  Is  it  not  absolute  blindness  to  sacri- 
fice an  eternal  kingdom  for  the  momentary 
gratification  of  a sinful  appetite  ? to  be  so 
careful  of  one’s  estate  and  so  careless  of  one’s 
conscience  ? to  desire  that  all  we  possess 
should  be  good  except  our  own  life  ? The 
world  is  so  full  of  such  blindness  that  men 
seem  bewitched.  They  have  eyes,  and  see  not ; 
they  have  ears,  and  hear  not.  They  have  eyes 
as  keen  as  those  of  the  eagle  in  discerning  the 
things  of  this  world ; but  they  are  as  blind  as 
beetles  to  the  things  of  eternity.  Like  St. 
Paul,  who  could  see  nothing,  though  his  eyes 
were  open,  when  he  was  thrown  to  the  ground 
on  his  way  to  Damascus,  their  eyes  are  open  to 
this  life,  but  utterly  blind  to  the  life  to  come. 

In  the  midst  of  such  darkness  and  so  many 
snares  what  can  worldlings  expect  but  to  stum- 
ble and  fall  ? This  is  one  of  the  greatest  mise- 
ries of  life,  one  that  should  inspire  us  with 
strong  aversion  for  the  world.  St.  Cyprian, 
desiring  to  excite  in  a friend  contempt  for  the 
world,  makes  use  of  this  argument  only.*  He 
goes  with  him  in  spirit  to  a high  mountain, 
whence  he  points  out  to  him  lands,  seas,  courts 
of  justice,  palaces  and  public  places,  all  defiled 

* L.  ii.  Ep.  2 ad  Donat. 


300 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


with  the  abominations  of  sin.  At  the  same 
time  lie  shows  his  friend,  from  this  spectacle, 
how  justly  such  a world  merits  his  contempt, 
and  how  great  should  be  his  gratitude  to  God 
fcrr  having  rescued  him  from  all  these  evils. 
Imitate  this  saint,  and,  rising  in  spirit  above 
the  world,  gaze  on  the  scene  laid  before  you. 
You  will  be  overwhelmed  by  the  sight  of  so 
much  falsehood,  treachery,  perjury,  fraud,  cal- 
umny, envy,  hatred,  vanity,  and  iniquities  of 
every  kind,  but  particularly  the  total  forgetful- 
ness of  God  which  prevails  in  the  world.  You 
will  see  the  majority  of  men  living  like  beasts, 
following  the  blind  impulse  of  brutal  passions, 
and  living  as  regardless  of  justice  or  reason  as 
if  they  were  pagans,  ignorant  of  the  existence  of 
God,  and  knowing  no  other  object  than  to  live 
and  die.  You  will  see  the  innocent  oppressed, 
the  guilty  acquitted,  the  just  despised,  the  wick- 
ed honored  and  exalted,  and  interest  always 
more  powerful  than  virtue.  You  will  see  jus- 
tice bribed,  truth  disfigured,  modesty  unknown, 
arts  ruined,  power  abused,  public  places  cor- 
rupted. You  will  see  knaves,  worthy  of  rig- 
orous punishment,  who,  having  become  rich 
through  fraud  and  rapine,  are  universally  fear- 
ed and  honored.  You  will  see  creatures  like 
these,  having  little  more  than  the  appearance  of 
men,  filling  high  places  and  holding  honorable 
offices.  You  will  see  money  worshipped  in- 
stead of  God,  and  its  corrupting  influence 
causing  the  violation  of  all  laws,  both  human 
and  divine.  Finally,  you  will  behold  in  the 
greater  part  of  the  world  justice  existing  only 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


301 


in  name.  Then  will  you  understand  with  how 
much  reason  the  prophets  said  : “ The  Lord 
hath  looked  down  from  Heaven  upon  the  chil- 
dren of  men,  to  see  if  there  he  any  that  under- 
stand and  seek  God.  They  are  all  gone  aside, 
they  are  become  unprofitable  together ; there 
is  none  that  doth  good,  no,  not  one/5  * “ There 

is  no  truth,  and  there  is  no  mercy,  and  there  is 
no  knowledge  of  God  in  the  land.  Cursing,  and 
lying,  and  killing,  and  theft,  and  adultery  have 
overflowed,  and  blood  hath  touched  blood.”  f 
Moreover,  if  you  would  know  the  world  still 
better,  consider  him  who  governs  it.  As  Jesus 
Christ  tells  us  that  the  devil  is  the  prince  of 
this  world — that  is,  of  wicked  men — what  must 
be  a body  with  such  a head,  a commonwealth 
with  such  a ruler  ? What  must  it  be  but  a den 
of  thieves,  an  army  of  brigands,  a prison  of 
galley-slaves,  a nest  of  serpents  and  basilisks  ? 
Why,  then,  will  you  not  long  to  leave  a place  so 
vile,  so  filled  with  treachery  and  snares  ; a place 
from  which  justice,  religion,  and  loyalty  seem 
banished  ; where  all  vices  reign  ; where  honesty 
counts  for  so  little  among  friends ; where  the 
son  desires  the  death  of  his  father,  the  hus- 
band that  of  his  wife,  and  the  wife  that  of 
her  husband  ; where  the  majority  of  men  of 
every  station  rob  one  another  under  plausible 
pretexts,  and  where  the  fires  of  impurity, 
anger,  cupidity,  ambition,  and  every  other  pas- 
sion continually  rage  ? Who  would  not  fly 
from  such  a world  ? “Who  will  give  me  in 
the  wilderness  a lodging-place,  . . and  I will  leave 

* Ps.  xiii  2,  3.  t Osee  iv.  1,  2. 


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my  people? ” says  the  prophet,  “because  they 
are  all  adulterers,  an  assembly  of  transgres- 
sors/5* All  that  we  have  said  on  this  subject 
applies  to  the  wicked,  for  there  are  good  men 
in  all  ranks  of  life,  for  whose  sake  God  bears 
with  the  rest  of  mankind. 

Judge,  therefore,  by  the  picture  we  have  given 
you  how  much  reason  you  have  to  hate  a world 
so  full  of  corruption,  where  evil  spirits  and 
crimes  are  more  numerous  than  the  atoms  we 
behold  in  the  rays  of  the  sun.  Nourish  and 
increase  the  desire  to  fly,  at  least  in  spirit,  from 
this  world,  saying  with  David:  “ AVlio  will 
give  me  wings  iike  a dove,  and  I will  fly  and  be 
at  rest  ? ” f 

These  miseries  inseparable  from  worldly  hap- 
piness should  suffice  to  show  you  that  it  con- 
tains more  gall  than  honey,  more  bitterness 
than  sweetness.  Nor  have  I described  all  the 
wretchedness  that  accompanies  the  pleasures  of 
this  life.  In  addition  to  its  shortness  it  is  im- 
pure, for  it  reduces  men  to  the  level  of  the 
brute,  and  raises  the  animal  above  the  spiritual 
part  of  their  nature.  It  is  intoxicating,  cloud- 
ing the  mind  and  distorting  the  judgment.  It 
is  inconstant,  and  makes  men  the  same.  It  is 
treacherous,  for  it  abandons  us  when  we  need 
it  most.  But  there  is  one  of  its  evil  character- 
istics of  which  I must  speak — that  is,  its  delusive 
appearance.  It  pretends  to  be  what  it  is  not, 
and  promises  what  it  cannot  give.  In  this  way 
it  allures  men  to  their  eternal  ruin.  As  there 
are  real  and  counterfeit  jewels  and  true  and 

* Jer.  ix.  2.  * Ps.  liv.  7. 


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303 


false  gold,  so  there  are  real  and  counterfeit 
virtues  and  true  and  false  happiness.  Aristo- 
tle says  that  as  falsehood  sometimes  has  more 
appearance  of  truth  than  truth  itself,  so  many 
things  which  are  evil  appear  more  fair  than 
others  which  are  really  good.  Such  is  the  hap- 
piness of  the  world,  and  therefore  the  ignorant 
are  allured  by  it,  as  fish  are  drawn  to  their  de- 
struction by  a glittering  bait.  It  is  the  nature 
of  worldly  things  to  present  themselves  under 
a bright  and  smiling  exterior  which  promises 
much  joy.  But  experience  soon  dissipates  our 
illusions  ; we  feel  the  sting  of  the  hook  almost 
as  soon  as  we  take  the  bait. 

Take,  for  example,  the  happiness  of  a newly- 
married  couple.  In  many  cases  how  brief  it  is! 
How  soon  it  is  interrupted  by  troubles  and 
anxieties  ; by  the  cares  of  children  ; by  sick- 
ness ; by  absence  ; by  jealousy;  by  misfortunes; 
by  grief  ; and  sometimes  by  death  itself,  which 
suddenly  changes  it  for  one  or  the  other  into  a 
desolate  widowhood  ! How  smilingly  the  bride 
goes  to  the  altar,  seeing  only  the  exterior  of 
what  is  before  her  ! Were  it  given  to  her  to 
see  the  weight  of  responsibility  which  she  takes 
upon  her  that  day,  tears  would  replace  her 
smiles.  Eagerly  as  Rebecca  desired  children, 
when  they  were  given  her,  and  fought  for  mas- 
tery over  each  other,  she  exclaimed,  Why  was 
my  desire  granted  me  ? How  many  have  ut- 
tered the  same  cry  when  they  found  the  realiza- 
tion of  their  hopes  so  far  below  what  they  pro- 
mised ! 

And  honors,  dignities,  preferments — how  at- 


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tractive  they  appear  ! But  what  anxieties, 
what  jealousies,  what  passions,  what  hardships 
their  false  splendor  conceals  ! What  shall  we 
say  of  unlawful  love  ? How  pleasing  is  the 
prospect  which  it  presents  to  the  senses  ! But 
once  the  sinner  has  entered  this  dark  labyrinth 
he  finds  himself  astray,  the  victim  of  a thou- 
sand harrowing  torments.  This  forbidden  tree 
is  guarded  by  a furious  dragon.  With  the 
sword  of  an  injured  parent  or  a jealous  hus- 
band he  frequently  deprives  the  sinner,  by  one 
blow,  of  his  reputation,  his  honor,  his  fortune, 
his  life,  and  his  soul.  Study  also  the  covetous 
man,  or  the  worldling  whose  aim  is  glory  to  be 
attained  through  arms  or  the  favor  of  the  great. 
How  often  do  their  lives  form  a complete  tra- 
gedy, beginning  with  prosperity  and  ending  in 
ruin  ! Truly  the  cup  of  Babylon  is  golden 
without,  but  filled  with  abominations.* 

What,  then,  is  human  glory  but  the  song  of 
the  siren  which  lures  men  to  destruction,  a 
sweet  but  poisoned  cup,  a viper  of  brilliant 
colors  breathing  only  venom  ? It  attracts  us 
only  to  deceive  us  ; it  elevates  us  only  to  crush 
us.  Consider,  moreover,  what  a return  it  exacts 
for  all  that  it  gives.  Grief  at  the  loss  of  a child 
far  exceeds  the  joy  of  its  birth.  Loss  gives  us 
more  pain  than  profit  gives  us  joy.  The  afflic- 
tion of  sickness  far  exceeds  the  pleasure  of 
health.  An  insult  wounds  us  more  than  honor 
flatters  us ; for  nature  dispenses  joys  and  sor- 
rows so  unequally  that  the  latter  affect  us  much 
more  powerfully  than  the  former.  These  re- 

* Apoc.  xvii.  4. 


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305 


flections  manifestly  prove  the  delusiveness  of 
worldly  happiness. 

You  have  here,  dear  Christian,  a true  picture 
of  the  world,  however  contrary  it  is  to  what  the 
world  appears  to  be.  Judge,  therefore,  of  its 
happiness,  so  brief,  so  uncertain,  so  dangerous, 
and  so  delusive.  What  is  this  world,  then,  but 
a land  of  toil,  as  a philosopher  has  wisely  said, 
a school  of  vanity,  an  asylum  of  illusions,  a 
labyrinth  of  errors,  a prison  of  darkness,  a high- 
way of  thieves,  a stream  of  infected  water,  an 
ocean  of  perpetual  storms  ? It  is  a barren  soil, 
a stony  field,  a thorny  wood,  a meadow  whose 
flowers  conceal  serpents,  a garden  full  of  blos- 
soms but  yielding  no  fruit,  a river  of  tears,  a 
fountain  of  cares,  a deceptive  poison,  a perfect 
fiction,  a pleasing  frenzy.  Its  good  is  false, 
its  evil  real,  its  peace  is  restless,  its  security 
unfounded,  its  fears  groundless,  its  labor  pro- 
fitless, its  tears  fruitless,  its  hope  vain,  its  joy 
false,  its  grief  real. 

Behold  what  a striking  representation  of  hell 
the  world  affords.  Hell  is  a place  of  sin  and 
suffering,  and  in  the  world  these  evils  also 
abound.  “Day  and  night  iniquity  shall  sur- 
round it  upon  its  walls,  and  in  the  midst  thereof 
are  labor  and  injustice.”  * These  are  the  fruits 
the  world  produces,  labor  and  injustice;  these 
are  the  merchandise  in  which  it  traffics.  On 
every  side  we  behold  sin  and  its  punishment. 
Hence  St.  Bernard  said  that  were  it  not  for 
the  hope  of  a better  life  there  would  be  little 
difference  between  this  world  and  hell,  f 

*Ps.  liv.  11.  t Serm.  4 de  Ascen. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


It  now  remains  for  us  to  prove  that  true  hap- 
piness can  only  be  found  in  God.  Were  men 
convinced  of  this  they  would  cease  to  pursue 
the  pleasures  of  this  world.  My  intention  is  to 
prove  this  important  truth  less  by  the  authori- 
ties and  testimonies  of  faith  than  by  arguments 
drawn  from  reason. 

It  will  readily  be  granted  that  no  creature  can 
enjoy  perfect  happiness  until  it  has  attained  its 
last  end — that  is,  the  highest  degree  of  perfec- 
tion of  which  it  is  capable.  Until  it  has  reach- 
ed this  it  cannot  enjoy  rest,  and  therefore  it  can- 
not be  perfectly  happy,  for  it  feels  the  want  of 
something  necessary  to  its  completeness.  Now, 
what  is  man’s  last  end,  on  the  attainment  of 
which  depends  his  happiness  ? That  it  is  God 
is  undeniable  ; for  since  He  is  our  first  begin- 
ning, He  must  necessarily  be  our  last  end.  As 
it  is  impossible  for  man  to  have  two  first  begin- 
mgs,  so  it  is  impossible  for  him  to  have  two  last 
ends,  for  this  would  suppose  the  existence  of  two 
Gods.  God,  then,  is  man’s  last  end,  and  con- 
sequently his  beatitude.  For  since  it  is  impos- 
sible for  him  to  have  more  than  one  last  end,  it 
follows  that  in  God  alone  can  his  happiness  be 
found.  As  the  glove  is  only  made  for  the  hand, 
and  the  scabbard  only  for  the  sword,  so  is  the  hu- 
man heart  created  only  for  God,  and  in  God  only 
will  it  find  rest.  In  Him  alone  will  it  know 
happiness.  Without  Him  it  will  be  poor  and 
miserable.  The  reason  of  this  is  because  as 
long  as  the  understanding  and  the  will,  the 
noblest  faculties  of  the  soul  and  the  principal 
seats  of  happiness,  are  unsatisfied,  man  cannot 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


307 


be  at  peace.  Now,  it  is  evident  that  these  facul- 
ties can  only  be  completely  satisfied  in  God. 
For,  according  to  St.  Thomas,  the  understand- 
ing can  never  be  so  filled  that  it  will  not  desire 
to  grasp  more  while  there  remains  more  to  be 
learned  ; and  the  will  can  never  love  and  relish 
so  much  good  that  it  will  not  desire  to  possess 
more,  if  more  be  possible.  Consequently  these 
two  powers  will  never  know  rest  until  they  have 
attained  a universal  object  containing  all  good, 
which,  once  known  and  loved,  leaves  no  other 
truth  to  be  known,  no  other  good  to  be  desired. 
Hence  no  created  thing,  were  it  the  whole  uni- 
verse, can  satisfy  man’s  heart.  God  alone,  for 
Whom  he  was  created,  can  do  this.  Plutarch 
tells  of  a man  who,  having  risen  from  the 
rank  of  a simple  soldier  to  that  of  emperor, 
was  accustomed  to  say  that  he  had  tried  all 
conditions  of  life,  and  in  none  had  he  found 
happiness.  How  could  it  be  otherwise,  since  in 
God  alone,  man’s  sole  supreme  end,  can  he  find 
supreme  rest  ? 

Let  us  illustrate  this  by  an  example.  Con- 
sider the  needle  of  the  compass.  God  has  given 
it  certain  properties  which  cause  it  invariably 
to  turn  to  the  north.  Change  its  direction  and 
you  will  see  how  restless  it  becomes  until  it  re- 
sumes its  normal  position.  Man  in  like  manner 
naturally  turns  to  God  as  towards  the  pole  of 
his  existence,  his  first  beginning  and  last  end. 
Let  his  heart  be  directed  to  any  other  object, 
and  he  becomes  a prey  to  trouble  and  disquiet. 
The  possession  and  enjo}rment  of  all  the  world’s 
favors  cannot  give  him  rest.  But  when  he  re- 


308 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


turns  to  God  he  immediately  finds  happiness 
and  repose.  Hence  he  alone  will  be  happy  who 
possesses  God,  and  therefore  he  is  nearest  to 
happiness  who  is  nearest  to  God.  For  this  rea- 
son only  the  just,  who  ever  draw  near  to  God, 
and  whose  joy  is  unknown  to  the  world,  are 
truly  happy. 

To  understand  this  more  fully  remember 
that  true  happiness  does  not  consist  in  sensible 
or  corporal  pleasures,  as  the  disciples  of  Epicu- 
rus and  Mahomet  assume.  In  the  same  class 
we  may  place  bad  Christians  whose  lips  deny 
the  doctrines  of  these  men,  but  whose  lives  are 
entirely  in  accordance  with  them.  For  do  not 
the  majority  of  the  rich,  who  spend  their  lives 
in  the  mad  pursuit  of  pleasure,  tacitly  acknow- 
ledge with  Epicureans  that  pleasure  is  their  last 
end,  and  with  Mahometans  that  sensual  delight 
is  their  paradise  ? 0 disciples  worthy  of  such 

masters  ! Why  do  you  not  abhor  the  lives  of 
those  whose  teachings  you  profess  to  condemn  ? 
If  you  will  have  the  paradise  of  Mahomet  you 
must  expect  to  lose  that  of  Christ.  True  hap- 
piness is  not  to  be  found  in  the  body  nor  in  cor- 
poral advantages,  but  in  the  spirit  and  in  spirit- 
ual goods,  as  the  greatest  philosophers  have  as- 
serted, and  as  Christianity  confirms,  though  in 
a far  more  elevated  sense.  The  possession  of 
these  blessings  will  afford  you  more  peace  and 
happiness  than  the  kings  of  the  earth  know 
amidst  their  power  and  splendor.  How  many 
of  them  have  testified  to  this  truth  by  joyfully 
forsaking  their  crowns  after  tasting  the  sweet- 
ness of  God’s  friendship  ! St.  Gregory,  who  re- 


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309 


luctantly  left  his  monastery  to  ascend  the  papal 
throne,  never  ceased  to  sigh  for  his  humble  cell 
as  ardently  as  a captive  among  infidels  sighs  for 
liberty  and  his  native  land. 

As  St.  Augustine  says,  it  is  not  merely  the 
possession  of  goods,  but  the  gratification  of  his 
just  desires  and  the  attainment  of  his  real  wants, 
that  make  man  happy.  These  are  to  be  found 
only  in  God.  Whatever  else  man  possesses,  he 
knows  not  the  blessing  of  peace.  Aman,  the 
favorite  of  Assuerus,  and  powerful  by  his  wealth 
and  influence,  was  yet  so  disturbed  because 
Mardochai  did  not  salute  him  that  he  declared 
he  found  no  comfort  in  all  he  possessed.  See 
how  small  a thing  can  poison  all  the  happiness 
which  prosperity  gives. 

Observe  further  how  much  more  accessible 
man  is  to  misery  than  to  happiness  in  this  life  ; 
for  but  one  ungratified  desire  suffices  to  make 
him  miserable,  and  so  many  things  are  required 
to  make  him  happy.  Is  there,  then,  any  prince 
or  potentate  sufficiently  powerful  to  have 
everything  according  to  his  will  and  thus  free 
himself  from  contradictions  ? Even  could  he 
bend  men  to  his  will  what  would  protect  him 
from  the  infirmities  of  nature,  bodily  pains, 
and  the  anxieties  and  groundless  fears  to  which 
the  mind  is  often  a prey  ? How  can  you  ex- 
pect to  find  immunity  from  suffering  and  con- 
tradiction, which  the  greatest  monarchs,  with  all 
their  power,  have  never  attained  ? Only  that 
which  contains  in  itself  all  good  can  give  you 
happiness.  Why,  then,  will  you  seek  it  so  far 
from  God,  Who  is  the  supreme  Good?  If  these 


310 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


reasons  be  insufficient  to  convince  you,  listen 
to  Solomon,  than  whom  no  man  had  a greater 
share  of  worldly  happiness.  What  are  the 
words  in  which  he  tells  us  the  result  of  his 
experience?  44  Vanity  of  vanities,  vanity  of 
vanities,  and  all  is  vanity.”  * Do  not  hesitate 
to  accept  his  testimony,  for  he  speaks  from  ex- 
perience. Do  not  imagine  that  you  can  find 
what  he  could  not  discover.  Consider  how 
limited  any  one’s  knowledge  must  be  compared 
to  his  ; for  was  there  ever  a wiser,  a richer,  a 
more  prosperous,  a more  glorious  monarch 
than  this  son  of  David  ? Who  ever  enjoyed  a 
greater  variety  of  amusements  ? All  things 
contributed  to  his  pleasure,  yet  he  gives  this 
result  of  his  almost  unlimited  prosperity : 
“ Vanity  of  vanities,  and  all  is  vanity.”  Can 
you,  then,  expect  to  realize  what  Solomon  found 
impossible  to  attain  ? You  live  in  the  same 
world,  and  your  resources  for  happiness  are  cer- 
tainly not  better  than  his.  His  pursuit  of 
pleasure  was  constant,  but  in  it  he  found  no 
happiness,  but  rather,  as  St.  Jerome  supposes, 
the  occasion  of  his  fall.  As  men  more  readily 
accept  the  lessons  of  experience  than  those  of 
reason,  God  may  have  permitted  Solomon  to 
drink  so  deep  at  the  fountain  of  pleasures  to 
teach  us  how  worthless  they  are,  and  to  save 
others  from  a similar  misfortune.  How  long, 
then,  0 sons  of  men  ! will  you  be  dull  #of 
heart  ? Why  will  you  love  vanity  and  seek 
after  lies  ? f Wisely  does  the  Psalmist  term 
them  vanity  and  lies,  for  if  there  were  nothing 

* Eccles.  1,  2.  t Ps.  iv.  3. 


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311 


in  worldly  things  but  vanity,  which  signifies 
nothingness,  their  evil  would  be  tolerable. 
But  their  most  dangerous  characteristic  is  the 
false  assurance  with  which  they  persuade  us  to 
believe  that  they  are  what  they  claim  to  be. 
In  this  the  world  manifests  its  excessive  hy- 
pocrisy. Hypocrites  endeavor  to  conceal  the 
faults  they  have  committed,  and  worldlings  the 
miseries  under  which  they  groan.  Some  who 
are  sinners  would  pass  for  saints.  Others  who 
are  miserable  would  pass  for  the  favorites  of 
fortune.  But  draw  near  to  them,  study  the 
pulsations  of  their  restless  hearts,  and  you  will 
see  what  a difference  there  is  between  appear- 
ances and  reality.  There  are  plants  which  at  a 
distance  appear  very  beautiful,  but  touch  them 
and  they  give  forth  a disagreeable  odor.  So  it 
is  with  the  rich  and  powerful  of  this  world. 
When  you  behold  the  dignity  of  their  position, 
the  splendor  of  their  dwellings,  and  the  luxury 
of  their  surroundings,  you  would  suppose  them 
the  happiest  of  men  ; but  draw  near  to  them, 
search  the  secret  recesses  of  their  souls,  the 
hidden  corners  of  their  homes,  and  you  will 
find  how  false  is  much  of  the  happiness  they 
seem  to  enjoy. 

0 children  of  men,  created  to  the  image  of 
God,  redeemed  by  His  blood,  destined  to  be 
the  companions  of  Angels,  why  do  you  love 
vanity  and  seek  after  a lie  ? Why  do  you 
seek  in  false  blessings  a peace  which  they 
cannot  give?  Why  do  you  leave  the  table 
of  Angels  to  feed  with  beasts?  Will  not  the 
calamities  with  which  the  world  visits  you  de- 


312 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


termine  you  to  break  the  chains  of  this  cruel 
tyrant  ? 

Reason  and  experience  clearly  prove  that  the 
happiness  we  seek  is  to  be  found  only  in  God. 
Is  it  not  madness  to  seek  it  elsewhere  ? “ Go 

where  you  will,”  says  St.  Augustine,  “ visit  all 
lands,  but  you  will  not  find  happiness  until 
you  go  to  God.” 

As  we  have  now  arrived  at  the  conclusion  of 
our  arguments  in  favor  of  virtue  and  in  praise 
of  its  rewards,  let  us  briefly  resume  what  we 
have  said.  As  there  is  no  good  which  is  not 
included  in  virtue,  we  must  regard  it  as  an  uni- 
versal good,  comparable  only  to  God  Himself. 
God  contains  in  His  Being  all  perfections  and 
all  good.  In  a certain  manner  the  same  may 
be  said  of  virtue.  All  creatures  have  each  some 
characteristic  perfection.  Some  are  beautiful, 
others  honest,  others  honorable,  and  others 
agreeable.  Those  among  them  that  possess  the 
greatest  number  of  these  perfections  have  most 
claims  to  our  love.  What,  then,  is  more  worthy 
of  our  love  than  virtue,  in  which  all  these  per- 
fections are  combined  ? If  we  seek  honesty, 
what  is  more  honest  than  virtue,  the  root  of  all 
honesty  ? If  we  look  for  honor,  what  is  more 
honorable  than  virtue  ? If  beauty  attracts  us, 
what  is  more  beautiful  than  virtue,  of  which 
Plato  said  that  were  its  beauty  only  seen  the 
whole  world  would  follow  it?  If  we  desire  profit, 
what  will  we  find  more  profitable  than  virtue, 
whose  hopes  are  so  exalted  and  whose  reward  is 
the  Sovereign  Good  ? “Length  of  days  is  in 
her  right  hand,  and  in  her  left  hand  riches 


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313 


and  glory.”  * If  we  seek  pleasure,  what  is  com- 
parable to  the  pure  pleasures  of  a good  con- 
science, of  peace,  of  charity,  of  the  liberty  of 
the  children  of  God,  of  the  consolations  of  the 
Holy  Spirit  which  always  accompany  virtue  ? 
Do  we  desire  renown  ? “ The  memory  of  the 

just  is  with  praises  ; and  the  name  of  the  wick- 
ed shall  rot.”  f If  Ave  aspire  to  wisdom,  the 
greatest  of  all  wisdom  is  to  know  God  and  to 
understand  Iioav  to  direct  our  life  to  its  last 
end.  If  AveAvould  have  the  esteem  and  affection 
of  men,  nothing  wrill  secure  it  more  effectually 
than  virtue;  for,  to  use  a comparison  of  Cicero, 
as  the  corporal  beauty  Ave  admire  results  from 
the  regularity  and  symmetry  in  the  members  of 
the  body,  so  from  the  order  and  regularity  of  a 
good  life  results  a beauty  which  is  pleasing  not 
only  to  God  and  the  Angels,  but  eAdi  to  the 
Avicked  and  to  our  very  enemies. 

Virtue  is  an  absolute  good;  it  admits  of  no 
alloy  of  evil.  For  this  reason  God  sends  to  the 
just  this  short  but  glorious  message:  “ Say  to 
the  just  man  that  it  is  well.”  J In  all  things, 
eAren  in  pain  and  toil,  he  shall  find  good,  and 
therefore  happiness,  because  “to  them  that 
love  God  all  things  work  together  unto  good.”  § 
Though  the  elements  Avar  upon  him,  and  though 
the  heavens  fall,  he  can  hold  up  his  head  with- 
out  fear,  for  the  day  of  his  redemption  is  at 
hand,  lie  shall  be  delivered  from  supreme  evil, 
which  is  the  company  of  Satan,  for  God,  the 
Supreme  Good,  will  be  his  portion.  God  the 
Father  will  adopt  him  as  His  son  ; God  the  Son 

* Prov.  iii.  16.  + Prov.  x.  7.  $ Isaias  iii.  10.  § Rom.  viii.  28. 


314 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


will  receive  him  as  His  brother;  and  God  the 
Holy  Ghost  will  dwell  in  him  as  His  temple. 
Having  sought  first  the  kingdom  of  God  and 
His  justice,  every  blessing  has  been  given  to  him. 
From  all  things  he  has  drawn  profit.  Every 
creature  has  been  an  aid  to  him  in  serving  God. 
Will  you,  then,  be  so  cruel  as  to  deprive  yourself 
of  a help  so  powerful  and  so  profitable  ? 

As  philosophers  tell  us,  good  is  the  object  of 
our  will,  which  is  the  seat  of  love.  Conse- 
quently the  better  a thing  is  the  more  de- 
serving it  is  of  our  love.  What,  then,  has 
so  corrupted  your  will  that  it  rejects  this  in- 
comparable good  ? Why  will  you  not  imitate 
David,  who,  though  he  had  the  care  of  a king- 
dom, tells  us  that  he  had  the  law  of  the 
Lord  in  the  midst  of  his  heart  ? * He  put  all 
other  considerations  aside,  and  gave  to  virtue 
the  noblest  place,  the  centre  of  his  heart.  How 
different  is  the  conduct  of  worldlings,  who  give 
vanity  the  first  place  in  their  hearts,  and  God’s 
law  the  lowest! 

Do  you  desire  any  other  motive  to  persuade 
you  to  follow  this  wise  example  and  embrace  so 
great  a good  ? If  you  consider  obligation,  can 
there  be  any  greater  than  the  obligation  which 
binds  us  to  serve  God  because  of  wThat  He  is  in 
Himself  ? We  have  already  shown  you  that  all 
other  obligations  compared  to  this  are  as  if 
they  did  not  exist.  If  you  can  be  moved  by 
benefits,  what  benefits  are  comparable  to  those 
you  have  received  from  God  ? Besides  the 
grand  benefits  of  creation  and  redemption,  have 

* Ps.  xxxix.  9. 


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315 


you  any  good  of  soul  or  body  that  is  not  from 
Him  ? If  interest  be  your  aim,  what  greater 
could  you  have  than  to  avoid  eternal  misery  and 
gain  eternal  joy  ? If  you  aspire  to  happiness 
in  this  life,  what  happiness  equals  that  of 
the  just  ? The  least  of  the  privileges  of  virtue 
which  we  have  described  affords  more  true 
happiness  than  the  possession  of  all  the  trea- 
sures of  the  world.  If  you  reject  these  evi- 
dences in  favor  of  virtue,  you  do  so  in  wilful 
blindness,  for  you  close  your  eyes  to  the  light 
of  truth. 


CHAPTER  XXIX. 

THE  FIRST  REMEDY  AGAINST  SIN  : A FIRM 
RESOLUTION  NOT  TO  COMMIT  IT. 

IT  is  not  sufficient  to  persuade  men  to  love 
virtue ; we  must  also  teach  them  how  to 
acquire  it.  The  first  condition,  a wise  man 
has  said,  is  the  absence  of  vice.  We  shall 
therefore  first  treat  of  the  most  common  vices 
and  their  remedies,  and  afterwards  of  the  vir- 
tues and  the  means  of  acquiring  them. 

Before  entering  upon  this  subject  bear  in 
mind  that  there  are  two  principles  in  which 
you  must  be  firmly  established  if  you  would 
change  your  life  and  give  yourself  to  God.  The 
first  is  a just  appreciation  of  the  importance  of 
the  labor  you  are  about  to  undertake  ; you 
must  be  convinced  that  this  is  the  sole  inte- 
rest, the  sole  profit,  the  sole  wisdom  in  the 


310 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


world.  This  is  what  the  Holy  Ghost  Himself 
teaches  us  : “Learn  where  is  wisdom,  where  is 
strength,  where  is  understanding,  that  thou 
mayst  know  also  where  is  length  of  days  and 
life,  where  is  the  light  of  the  eyes,  and  peace.”  * 
“ Let  not  the  wise  man  glory  in  his  wisdom,  and 
let  not  the  strong  man  glory  in  his  strength, 
and  let  not  the  rich  man  glory  in  his  riches  ; 
but  let  him  that  glorieth  glory  in  this,  that  he 
understandeth  and  knowetli  Me.”f 

The  second  principle  with  which  you  must 
be  imbued  is  that  as  this  is  such  a glorious  and 
profitable  engagement,  you  must  undertake 
it  with  vigor  and  a firm  determination  to  con- 
quer. Be  persuaded  that  all  the  dangers  which 
you  will  encounter  will  be  of  little  moment 
compared  to  the  sublime  end  you  haVe  in  view. 
It  is  a law  of  nature  that  nothing  great  is  ac- 
complished without  labor  and  trouble.  You 
will  no  sooner  have  resolved  to  give  yourself 
to  God  than  hell  will  send  out  its  forces  against 
you.  The  flesh,  corrupted  from  its  birth  by  the 
poison  of  the  serpent,  will  assail  you  with  its 
insatiable  desires  and  alluring  pleasures.  Evil 
habits  as  strong  as  nature  itself  will  fiercely 
resist  this  change  of  life  and  exaggerate  the 
difficulties  which  you  will  encounter.  To 
turn  a river  from  its  course  is  hardly  more 
laborious  than  to  change  a life  confirmed  by 
inveterate  habits.  The  world,  as  powerful  as  it 
is  cruel,  will  wage  a fierce  war  against  you. 
Armed  with  its  pleasures  and  bad  examples,  it 
will  hasten  to  compass  your  downfall.  At  one 

* Baruch  iii.  14.  t Jer.  ix.  23,  24. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


317 


time  it  will  seek  to  captivate  your  heart  with 
its  pomps  and  vanities.  At  another  time  it 
will  strive  to  entangle  you  in  the  net  of  its 
ways  and  maxims.  Again  it  will  boldly  attack 
you  with  ridicule,  raillery,  and  persecution. 
The  devil  himself,  the  arch- deceiver,  will  re- 
new his  warfare  and  turn  all  his  forces  against 
you.  Enraged  at  your  desertion  from  his 
party,  he  will  leave  nothing  undone  to  ruin 
you. 

• Be  prepared,  therefore,  to  meet  with  difficul- 
ties. Remember  the  words  of  the  Wise  Man  : 
“ Son,  when  thou  comest  to  the  service  of  God, 
stand  in  justice  and  in  fear,  and  prepare  thy 
soul  for  temptation.”*  Do  not  think  you  are 
called  to  enjoyment  alone.  You  must  struggle 
and  combat;  for,  notwithstanding  the  abun- 
dant succor  which  is  offered  to  us,  we  must  ex- 
pect hard  labor  and  difficulties  in  the  beginning 
of  our  conversion.  That  you  may  not  be  dis- 
couraged, bear  in  mind  that  the  prize  for  which 
you  are  striving  is  worth  more  than  all  you 
can  ever  give  to  purchase  it.  Remember  that 
you  have  powerful  defenders  ever  near  you. 
Against  the  assaults  of  corrupt  nature  you 
have  God’s  grace.  Against  the  snares  of  the 
devil  you  have  the  almighty  powTer  of  God. 
Against  the  allurements  of  evil  habits  you 
have  the  force  of  good  habits  confirmed  by 
grace.  Against  a multitude  of  evil  spirits  you 
have  numberless  Angels  of  light.  Against  the 
bad  example  and  persecutions  of  the  world 
you  have  the  good  example  and  strengthening 

* Ecclus.  ii.  1. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


exhortations  of  the  Saints.  Against  the  sinful 
pleasures  and  vain  joys  of  the  world  you  have 
the  pure  joys  and  ineffable  consolations  of  the 
Holy  Ghost.  Is  it  not  evident  that  all  that  are 
for  you  are  stronger  than  all  that  are  against 
you  ? Is  not  God  stronger  than  the  devil  ? 
Is  not  grace  superior  to  nature  ? Are  not  the 
good  Angels  more  powerful  than  the  fallen 
legions  of  Satan  ? Are  not  the  pure  and  inef- 
fable joys  of  the  soul  far  more  delightful  than 
the  gross  pleasures  of  sense  and  the  vain  amuse- 
ments of  the  world  ? 

Besting  on  these  two  principles,  your  first 
determination  must  be  a deep  and  unshaken 
resolution  never  to  commit  mortal  sin,  for  it 
only  can  rob  us  of  the  grace  and  friendship  of 
God.  Such  a resolution  is  the  basis  of  a vir- 
tuous life.  As  long  as  the  soul  perseveres  in 
it  she  possesses  divine  charity,  which  makes 
her  a child  of  God,  a member  of  Christ,  a tem- 
ple of  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  gives  her  a right  to 
the  blessings  of  the  Church  here  and  the  king- 
dom of  Heaven  hereafter. 

In  all  things  we  distinguish  substance  and 
accidents.  The  latter  may  be  changed,  while 
the  former  remains  the  same  ; but  if  the  sub- 
stance fail,  all  is  lost. 

Thus  a house  is  still  called  a ^ house  though 
its  ornaments  are  removed,  but  if  the  building 
be  destroyed  the  ornaments  perish  with  it. 
Now,  the  very  substance,  the  life  of  virtue  is 
charity.  This  remains,  aud  therefore  our 
spiritual  edifice  stands  as  long  as  we  maintain 
our  resolution  not  to  commit  mortal  sin.  If 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


319 


this  fail  the  whole  structure  is  reduced  to 
ruin  ; we  cease  to  be  God’s  friends;  we  become 
His  enemies. 

Hence  the  constancy  with  which  the  mar- 
tyrs endured  such  cruel  torments.  Rather  than 
be  deprived  of  God’s  grace  by  mortal  sin  they 
submitted  to  be  burned,  to  have  their  flesh  torn 
with  heated  irons,  and  to  suffer  every  torture 
which  the  cruelty  of  men  could  invent.  They 
knew  that  had  they  sinned  they  could,  if  time 
were  given  them,  repent  and  obtain  forgiveness, 
as  Peter  did  immediately  after  denying  his 
Master  ; yet  the  most  terrible  torments  were 
more  tolerable  to  them  than  the  momentary 
deprivation  of  God’s  favor  and  grace. 

Holy  Scripture  gives  us  a glorious  example  of 
this  constancy  in  the  mother  of  the  seven  sons, 
whom  she  exhorted  to  die  manfully,  and  whose 
martyrdom  she  heroically  witnessed  before  she 
gave  up  her  own  life  for  the  law.  * Equally 
sublime  was  the  fortitude  of  Felicitas  and 
Svmphorosa,  who  lived  in  the  early  age  of  the 
Church,  and  who  had  also  seven  sons  each. 
These  intrepid  soldiers  of  Christ  were  present 
at  the  martyrdom  of  their  children,  and  in  ac- 
cents of  sublime  courage  besought  them  to  en- 
dure their  tortures  with  constancy.  They  bad 
the  heavenly  consolation  of  seeing  them  die  for 
Christ,  and  then,  with  a heroism  born  only  of 
faith,  they  yielded  their  own  lives  to  complete 
the  sacrifice.  In  his  Life  of  St.  Paul,  the  first 
hermit,  St.  Jerome  tells  of  a young  man  whom, 
after  the  tyrants  had  vainly  used  many  means 

* 2 Mach.  vii. 


320 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


to  force  him  to  sin,  they  finally  bound  in  so 
helpless  a condition  that  he  could  not  escape 
from  the  wretched  creature  whom  they  brought 
to  him  to  tempt  him.  Yet  his  courage  fail- 
ed him  not,  but,  biting  off  his  tongue,  which 
they  could  not  bind,  he  spat  it  into  the  face  of 
his  tempter,  who  fled  in  dismay.  In  this  he 
was  doubtlessly  inspired  by  the  Holy  Ghost,  as 
were  so  many  of  the  Saints,  wTlio  by  every 
kind  of  bodily  suffering  subdued  the  violence  of 
passions  which  would  lead  them  to  offend  God. 

He  who  desires  to  walk  resolutely  in  the  same 
path  must  strive  to  imitate  them  by  fixing  this 
resolution  deep  in  his  soul.  Appreciating 
things  at  their  true  value,  he  must  prefer  the 
friendship  of  God  to  all  the  treasures  of  earth  ; 
he  must  unhesitatingly  sacrifice  perishable  joys 
for  delights  that  wTill  be  eternal.  To  accomplish 
this  must  be  the  end  of  all  his  actions  ; the 
object  of  all  his  prayers  ; the  fruit  he  seeks  in 
frequenting  the  sacraments;  the  profit  he  de- 
rives from  sermons  and  pious  reading  ; the  les- 
son he  should  learn  from  the  beauty  and  har- 
mony of  the  world,  and  from  all  creatures. 
This  will  be  the  happy  result  of  our  Saviour’s 
Passion  and  all  the  other  works  of  love  which 
He  unceasingly  performs.  They  will  inspire 
him  with  a horror  of  offending  the  good  Master 
Who  has  done  so  much  for  him.  Finally,  this 
holy  fear  and  firm  resolution  will  be  the  mark 
of  his  progress  in  virtue. 

Take  a lesson  from  the  carpenter,  who,  when 
he  wishes  to  drive  a large  nail,  is  not  satisfied 
with  giving  it  a few  strokes,  but  continues  ham- 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


821 


mering  until  he  is  sure  it  is  firmly  fastened. 
You  must  imitate  him,  if  you  would  firmly  im- 
plant this  resolution  in  your  soul.  Be  not  satis- 
fied with  renewing  it  from  time  to  time,  but 
daily  take  advantage  of  all  the  opportunities  af- 
forded you  in  meditation,  in  reading,  in  what 
you  see  or  hear,  to  fix  this  horror  of  sin  more 
deeply  in  your  soul. 

If  all  the  calamities  which  have  existed  in  the 
world  since  the  creation,  and  all  the  sutferings 
of  hell,  were  put  into  one  side  of  a scale,  and 
but  one  mortal  sin  into  the  other,  it  would  out- 
weigh all  these  evils,  for  it  is  incomparably 
greater.  This  is  a truth  which  must  be  strong- 
ly felt  and  constantly  remembered.  I know 
that  the  world  judges  differently,  but  the  dark' 
ness  which  reigns  in  this  second  Egypt  cannot 
change  the  real  character  of  sin.  Is  it  astonish- 
ing that  the  blind  do  not  see  an  evil,  however 
great,  or  that  the  dead  do  not  feel  the  pain  of 
a mortal  wound  ? 

We  shall  treat,  therefore,  not  only  of  mortal 
but  of  venial  sin  ; not  that  the  latter  destroys 
the  life  of  the  soul,  but  because  it  weakens  us 
and  disposes  us  to  mortal  sin,  which  is  death. 
We  shall  first  speak  of  the  seven  deadly  sins, 
the  source  of  all  the  others.  These  sins  are 
not  always  mortal,  but  they  can  easily  become 
so,  particularly  when  they  violate  a command- 
ment of  God  or  of  the  Church,  or  destroy 
charity. 

In  the  “ Memorial  of  a Christian  Life  ” we 
treated  of  this  subject,  and  gave  a number  of 
remedies  against  sin  in  general.  Our  intention 


322 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


at  present  is  to  give  special  remedies  applicable 
to  particular  sins,  such  as  pride,  covetousness, 
anger,  or  revenge.  By  this  means  we  hope  to 
supply  each  one  with  the  medicine  necessary 
for  his  infirmities,  and  with  aims  suitable  for 
engaging  in  this  warfare.  Before  entering  upon 
this  subject  it  is  important  to  observe  that 
in  this  spiritual  combat  we  have  more  need  of 
eyes  than  of  hands  and  feet.  The  eyes,  which 
signify  vigilance,  are  the  principal  weapons  to  be 
used  in  this  war,  which  is  waged,  not  against 
flesh  and  blood,  but  ( against  the  malice  of  the 
evil  spirits.  The  reason  of  this  is  because  the 
first  source  of  sin  is  error  in  the  understanding, 
which  is  the  natural  guide  and  counsellor  of  the 
will.  Consequently  the  chief  endeavor  of  the 
devil  is  to  darken  the  understanding,  and  thus 
draw  the  will  into  the  same  error.  Thus  he 
clothes  evil  with  the  appearance  of  good,  and 
presents  vice  under  the  mask  of  virtue,  that  we 
may  regard  it  as  a counsel  of  reason  rather  than 
a temptation  of  the  enemy.  When  we  are 
tempted  to  pride,  anger,  ambition,  or  revenge, 
he  strives  to  make  us  believe  that  our  desire  is 
just,  and  that  not  to  follow  it  is  to  act  against 
the  dictates  of  reason.  Man,  therefore,  must 
have  eyes  to  perceive  the  perfidious  hook^which 
is  concealed  beneath  the  tempting  bait,  that  he 
may  not  be  misled  by  vain  appearances. 

This  clearness  of  mental  vision  is  also  neces- 
sary to  enable  the  Christian  to  appreciate  the 
malice  and  hideousness  of  sin,  and  the  dangers 
to  which  it  will  expose  us.  Seeing  the  evil,  we 
must  restrain  our  appetites  and  fear  to  taste 


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323 


the  poison  which  will  immediately  cause  death. 
We  also  gather  this  lesson  from  that  passage  in 
Holy  Scripture  * which  speaks  of  those  myste- 
rious creatures,  figures  of  the  just,  which  had 
eyes  all  over  their  bodies.,  for  in  them  we  find 
a striking  symbol  of  that  watchful  vigilance 
which  the  Christian  must  constantly  exercise  to 
avoid  the  snares  of  vice. 


CHAPTEK  XXX. 

REMEDIES  AGAIXST  PRIDE. 

Section  I. 

General  Remedies . 

WE  have  already  called  the  deadly  or  capi- 
tal sins  the  sources  of  all  iniquity. 
They  are  the  roots  of  the  mighty  tree 
of  vice,  and  if  we  can  destroy  them  the 
trunk  and  branches  must,  soon  decay.  With 
them,  therefore,  we  shall  begin,  following  the 
example  of  Cassian  and  other  spiritual  ivriters, 
who  were  so  firmly  convinced  that  if  they  could 
only  rout  these  enemies  the  defeat  of  the  others 
would  be  an  easy  task. 

St.  Thomas  gives  us  a profound  reason  for 
this.  All  sin,  he  says,  proceeds  from  self-love, 
for  we  never  commit  sin  without  coveting  some 
gratification  for  self.  From  self-love  spring 
those  three  branches  of  sin  mentioned  by  St. 

♦Ezech.  i.  18. 


324 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


John : “ the  concupiscence  of  the  flesh,  the  con- 
cupiscence of  the  eyes,  and  the  pride  of  life/5* 
which  are  love  of  pleasure,  love  of  riches,  and 
love  of  honors.  Three  of  the  deadly  sins,  lust, 
gluttony,  and  sloth,  spring  from  love  of  pleasure, 
pride  springs  from  love  of  honors,  and  covet- 
ousness from  love  of  riches.  The  remaining 
two,  anger  and  envy,  serve  all  these  unlawful 
loves.  Anger  is  aroused  by  any  obstacle  which 
prevents  us  attaining  what  we  desire,  and  envy 
is  excited  when  we  behold  any  one,  possessing 
what  our  self-love  claims.  These  are  the  three 
roots  of  the  seven  deadly  sins,  and  consequently 
of  all  the  others.  Let  these  chiefs  be  destroyed 
and  the  whole  army  will  soon  be  routed.  Hence 
we  must  vigorously  attack  these  mighty  giants 
who  dispute  our  entrance  to  the  promised  land. 

The  first  and  most  formidable  of  these  ene- 
mies is  pride,  that  inordinate  desire  of  our  own 
excellence,  which  spiritual  writers  universally 
regard  as  the  father  and  king  of  all  the  other 
vices.  Hence  Tobias,  among  the  numerous  good 
counsels  which  he  gave  his  son,  particularly 
warns  him  against  pride  : “ Never  suffer*  pride 
to  reign  in  thy  mind  or  in  thy  words,  for  from 
it  all  perdition  took  its  beginning.55  f When- 
ever, therefore,  you  are  attacked  by  this  vice, 
which  may  justly  be  called  a pestilence,  defend 
yourself  with  the  following  considerations  : 

First  reflect  on  the  terrible  punishment  which 
the  Angels  brought  upon  themselves  by  one  sin 
of  pride.  They  were  instantly  cast  from  Heaven 
into  the  lowest  depths  of  hell.  Consider  how 

* 1 St.  John  ii.  16  t Tobias  iv.  14. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


325 


this  fall  transformed  Lucifer,  the  prince  of  the 
angelic  hosts,  and  the  bright  and  beautiful  star 
surpassing  in  splendor  the  sun  himself.  In  one 
moment  he  lost  all  his  glory,  and  became  not 
only  a demon  but  the  chief  of  demons.  If  pure 
spirits  received  such  punishment,  what  can  you 
expect,  who  are  but  dust  and  ashes  ? GocI  is 
ever-  the  same,  and  there  is  no  distinction  of 
persons  before  His  justice.  Pride  is  as  odious 
to  Him  in  a man  as  m an  Angel,  while  humility 
is  equally  pleasing  to  Him  in  both.  Hence  St. 
Augustine  says  : “ Humility  makes  men  Angels, 
and  pride  makes  Angels  devils.”  And  St.  Ber- 
nard tells  us:  “ Pride  precipitates  man  from 
the  highest  elevation  to  the  lowest  abyss,  but 
humility  raises  him  from  the  lowest  abyss  to 
the  highest  elevation.  Through  pride  the 
Angels  fell  from  Heaven  to  hell,  and  through 
humility  man  is  raised  from  earth  to  Heaven.” 

After  this  reflect  on  that  astonishing  example 
of  humility  given  us  by  the  Son  of  God,  Who 
for  love  of  us  took  upon  Himself  a nature 
so  infinitely  beneath  His  own,  and  “became 
obedient  unto  death,  even  the  death  of  the 
cross.”*  Let  the  example  of  your  God  teach 
you,  0 man  ! to  be  obedient.  Learn,  0 dust  ! to 
humble  yourself.  Learn,  0 clay  ! to  appreciate 
your  baseness.  Learn  from  your  God,  0 Chris- 
tian ! to  be  “meek  and  humble  of  hea*rt.”  f If 
you  disdain  to  walk  in  the  footsteps  of  men, 
will  you  refuse  to  follow  your  God,  Who  died 
not  only  to  redeem  us  but  to  teach  us  humility  ? 
Look  upon  yourself  and  you  will  find  sufficient 

* Phil.  ii.  8.  + St.  Matt.  xi.  29. 


326 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


motives  for  humility.  Consider  what  you  were 
before  your  birth,  what  you  are  since  your  birth, 
and  what  you  will  be  after  death.  Before  your 
birth  you  were,  for  a time,  an  unformed  mass  ; 
now  a fair  but  false  exterior  covers  what  is 
doomed  to  corruption  ; and  in  a little  while  you 
will  be  the  food  of  worms.  Upon  what  do  you 
pride  yourself,  0 man  ! whose  birth  is  ignominy, 
whose  life  is  misery,  whose  end  is  corruption  ? 
If  you  are  proud  of  your  riches  and  worldly 
position,  remember  that  a few  years  more  and 
death  will  make  us  all  equal.  We  are  all  equal 
at  birth  with  regard  to  our  natural  condition  ; 
and  as  to  the  necessity  of  dying,  we  shall  all  be 
equal  at  death,  with  this  important  exception  : 
that  those  who  possessed  most  during  life  will 
have  most  to  account  for  in  the  day  of  reckon-  • 
ing.  “ Examine,”  says  St.  Chrysostom,  “the 
graves  of  the  rich  and  powerful  of  this  world, 
and  find,  if  you  can,  some  trace  of  the  luxury 
in  which  they  lived,  of  the  pleasures  they  so 
eagerly  sought  and  so  abundantly  enjoyed. 
What  remains  of  their  magnificent  retinues  and  i 
costly  adornments  ? What  remains  of  those  in- 
genious devices  destined  to  gratify  their  senses 
and  banish  the  weariness  of  life  ? What  has 
become  of  that  brilliant  society  by  which  they 
were  surrounded  ? Where  are  the  numerous  at- 
tendants who  awaited  their  commands  ? No- 
thing remains  of  their  sumptuous  banquets. 
The  sounds  of  laughter  and  mirth  are  no  longer 
heard  ; a sombre  silence  reigns  in  these  homes 
of  the  dead.  But  draw  nearer  and  see  what  re- 
mains of  their  earthly  tenements,  their  bodies 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


327 


which  they  loved  too  much.  Naught  but  dust 
and  ashes,  worms  and  corruption.”  This  is  the 
inevitable  fate  of  the  human  body,  however 
tenderly  and  delicately  nurtured.  Ah  ! would 
to  God  that  the  evil  ended  here  ! But  more 
terrible  still  is  all  that  follows  death  : the  dread 
tribunal  of  God’s  justice;  the  sentence  passed 
upon  the  guilty  ; the  weeping  and  gnashing  of 
teeth  ; the  tortures  of  the  worm  that  never 
dies ; and  the  fire  which  will  never  be  ex- 
tinguished. 

Consider  also  the  clanger  of  vain -glory,  the 
daughter  of  pride,  which  as  St.  Bernard  says, 
enters  lightly  but  wounds  deeply.  Therefore, 
when  men  praise  you,  think  whether  you  really 
possess  the  qualities  for  which  they  commend 
you.  If  you  do  not  you  have  no  reason  to  be 
1 proud.  But  if  you  have  justly  merited  their 
, praise,  remember  the  gifts  of  God,  and  say  with 
! the  Apostle  : “ By  the  grace  of  God  I am  what 
I am.”  * Humble  yourself,  then,  wThen  you  hear 
i the  song  of  praise,  and  refer  all  to  the  glory  of 
God.  Thus  you  will  render  yourself  not  un- 
worthy of  what  He  bestows  upon  you.  For  it 
is  incontestable  that  the  respect  men  pay  you, 
and  the  good  for  which  they  honor  you,  are  due 
to  God.  You  rob  Him,  therefore,  of  all  the 
merit  which  you  appropriate  to  yourself.  Can 
any  servant  be  more  unfaithful  than  one  who 
steals  his  master’s  glory  ? Consider,  moreover, 
how  unreasonable  it  is  to  rate  your  merit  by  the 
inconstant  opinion  of  men  who  to-day  are  for 
you,  and  to-morrow  against  you  ; who  to-day 

* 1 Cor.  xv.  10. 


328 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


honor  yon,  and  to-morrow  revile  you.  If  your 
merit  rests  upon  so  slight  a foundation,  at  one 
time  you  will  be  great,  at  another  base,  and  again 
nothing  at  all,  according  to  the  capricious  varia- 
tions of  the  minds  of  men.  Oil ! no  ; do  not 
rely  upon  the  vain  commendations  of  others, 
but  upon  what  you  really  know  of  yourself. 
'Though  men  extol  you  to  the  skies,  listen  to  the 
warnings  of  your  conscience  and  accept  the 
testimony  of  this  intimate  friend  rather  than 
the  blind  opinion  of  those  who  can  judge  you 
only  from  a distance  and  by  what  they  hear. 
Make  no  account  of  the  judgments  of  men,  but 
commit  your  glory  to  the  care  of  God,  Whose  . 
wisdom  will  preserve  it  for  you  and  Whose 
fidelity  will  restore  it  to  you  in  the  sight  of 
Angels  and  men. 

Be  mindful  also,  0 ambitious  man  ! of  the 
dangers  to  which  you  expose  yourself  by  seek- 
ing to  command  others.  How  can  you  com- 
mand when  you  have  not  yet  learned  to  obey  ? j 
How  can  you  take  upon  yourself  the  care  of  J 
others  when  you  can  hardly  account  for  your- 
self ? Consider  what  a risk  you  incur  by 
adding  to  your  own  sins  those  of  persons  sub- 
ject to  your  authority.  Holy  Scripture  tells  us 
that  they  who  govern  will  be  severely  judged,  and 
that  the  mighty  shall  be  mightily  tormented.* 
Who  can  express  the  cares  and  troubles  of  one 
who  is  placed  over  many  ? We  read  of  a cer- 
tain king  who,  on  the  day  of  his  coronation,  j 
took  the  crown  in  his  hands,  and,  gazing  upon 
it,  exclaimed  : “ 0 crown  richer  in  thorns  than 

* Wisdom  vi.  6,  7. 


The  Shiner's  Guide . 


329 


in  happiness,  did  one  truly  know  thee  he  would 
not  stoop  to  pick  thee  up  even  if  he  fojind  thee 
lying  at  his  feet.” 

" Again,  0 proud  man  ! I would  ask  you  to  re- 
member that  your  pride  is  displeasing  to  all — 
to  God,  Who  resists  the  proud  and  gives  His 
grace  to  the  humble  ; * to  the  humble,  who  hold 
in  horror  all  that  savors  of  arrogance  ; and  to 
the  proud  themselves,  who  naturally  hate  all 
who  claim  to  be  greater  than  they.  Nor  will 
you  be  pleasing  to  yourself.  For  if  it  ever  be 
given  to  you  in  this  world  to  enter  into  your- 
self and  recognize  the  vanity  and  folly  of  your 
life,  you  will  certainly  be  ashamed  of  your 
littleness.  And  if  you  do  not  correct  it  here, 
still  less  satisfaction  will  it  afford  you  in  the 
next  world,  where  it  will  bring  upon  you  eter- 
nal torments.  St.  Bernard  tells  us  that  if  we 
truly  knew  our  hearts  we  would  be  displeasing 
to  ourselves,  which  alone  would  make  us  pleas- 
ing to  God ; but  because  we  do  not  know  our- 
selves we  are  inflated  with  pride  and  therefore 
hateful  in  His  sight.  The  time  will  come 
when  we  shall  be  odious  to  God  and  to  our- 
selves— to  God  because  of  our  crimes,  and  to 
ourselves  because  of  the  punishment  they  will 
bring  upon  us.  Our  pride  pleases  the  devil 
only  ; for  as  it  was  pride  which  changed  him 
from  a pure  and  beautiful  Angel  into  a spirit 
of  malice  and  deformity,  he  rejoices  to  find 
this  evil  reducing  others  to  his  unhappy  state. 

Another  consideration  which  will  help  you 
acquire  humility  is  the  thought  of  the  little 

* St.  James  iv.  6. 


330 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


you  have  done  purely  for  God.  How  many 
vices  assume  the  mask  of  virtue  ! How  frequent- 
ly vain-glory  spoils  our  best  works  ! How  many 
times  actions  which  shine  with  dazzling  splendor 
before  men  have  no  beauty  before  God  ! The 
judgments  of  God  are  different  from  those  of 
men.  An  humble  sinner  is  less  displeasing  in 
His  sight  than  a proud  just  man,  if  one  who 
is  proud  can  be  called  just.  Nevertheless, 
though  you  have  performed  good  works,  do  not 
forget  your  evil  deeds,  which  probably  far  ex- 
ceed your  works  of  virtue,  and  which  may  be  so 
full  of  faults  and  so  negligently  performed  that 
you  have  more  reason  to  ask  to  be  forgiven  for 
them  than  to  hope  for  reward.  Hence  St. 
Gregory  says : “ Alas  for  the  most  virtuous 
life,  if  God  judge  it  without  mercy,  for  those 
things  upon  which  we  rely  most  may  be  the 
cause  of  the  greatest  confusion  to  us.  Our  bad 
actions  are  purely  evil,  but  our  good  actions  are 
seldom  entirely  good,  but  are  frequently  mixed 
with  much  that  is  imperfect.  Your  works, 
therefore,  ought  to  be  a subject  of  fear  rather 
than  confidence,  after  the  example  of  holy  Job, 
* who  says : * I feared  all  my  works,  knowing 
that  thou  didst  not  spare  the  offender/  ” * 

Section  II. 

Particular  Remedies. 

Since  humility  comes  from  a knowledge  of 
ourselves,  pride  necessarily  springs  from  ignor- 
ance of  ourselves.  Whoever,  therefore,  serious- 

* Job  ix.  28. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


331 


I ly  desires  to  acquire  humility  must  earnestly 
labor  to  know  himself.  How,  in  fact,  can  he 
be  otherwise  than  humbled  who,  looking  into 
: his  heart  with  the  light  of  truth,  finds  himself 
filled  with  sins  ; defiled  with  the  stains  of  car- 
nal pleasures ; the  sport  of  a thousand  errors, 
fears,  and  caprices  ; the  victim  of  innumerable 
anxieties  and  petty  cares ; oppressed  by  the 
weight  of  a mortal  body  ; so  forward  in  evil  and 
so  backward  in  good  ? Study  yourself,  then, 

! with  serious  attention,  and  you  will  find  in 
yourself  nothing  of  which  to  be  proud. 

But  there  are  some  who,  though  humbled  at 
the  sight  of  their  failings,  are  nevertheless  ex- 
i cited  to  pride  when  they  examine  the  lives  of 
others  whom  they  consider  less  virtuous  than 
themselves.  Those  who  yield  to  this  illusion 
ought  to  reflect,  though  they  may  excel  their 
neighbors  in  some  virtues,  that  in  others  they 
are  inferior  to  them.  Beware,  then,  lest  you 
esteem  yourself  and  despise  your  neighbor  be- 
cause you  are  more  abstemious  and  industrious, 
when  he  is  probably  much  more  humble,  more 
patient,  and  more  charitable  than  you.  Let 
your  principal  labor,  therefore,  be  to  discover 
what  you  lack,  and  not  what  you  possess. 
Study  the  virtues  which  adorn  the  soul  of  your 
neighbor  rather  than  those  with  which  you 
think  yourself  endowed.  You  will  thus  keep 
yourself  in  sentiments  of  humility,  and  increase 
in  your  soul  a desire  for  perfection.  But  if 
you  keep  your  eyes  fixed  on  the  virtues,  real  or 
imaginary,  which  you  possess,  and  regard  in 
others  only  their  failings,  you  will  naturally 


332 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


prefer  yourself  to  them,  and  thus  you  will  be- 
come satisfied  with  your  condition  and  cease  to 
make  any  efforts  to  advance. 

If  you  find  yourself  inclined  to  take  pride 
in  a good  action,  carefully  watch  the  feelings 
of  your  heart,  bearing  in  mind  that  this  satis- 
faction and  yain-glory  will  destroy  all  the 
merit  of  your  labor.  Attribute  no  good  to 
yourself,  but  refer  everything  to  God.  Ke- 
press  all  suggestions  of  pride  with  the  beau- 
tiful words  of  the  great  Apostle  : “ What  hast 
thou  that  thou  hast  not  received  ? And  if 
thou  hast  received,  why  dost  thou  glory  as  if 
thou  hadst  not  received  it  ? ” * When  your  good 
works  are  practices  of  supererogation  or  per- 
fection, unless  your  position  requires  you  to 
give  an  example,  do  not  let  your  right  hand 
know  what  your  left  hand  does,  for  vain- 
glory is  more  easily  excited  by  good  works 
done  in  public.  W’hen  you  feel  sentiments  of 
vanity  or  pride  rising  in  your  heart  hasten  to 
apply  a remedy  immediately.  One  that  is 
most  efficacious  consists  in  recalling  to  mind 
all  your  sins,  particularly  the  most  shameful. 
Like  a wise  physician,  you  will  thus  counteract 
the  effect  of  one  poison  by  another.  Imitate 
the  peacock,  and  when  you  feel  yourself  inflated 
with  pride  turn  your  eyes  upon  your  greatest 
deformity,  and  your  vanity  will  soon  fall  to 
the  ground.  The  greater  your  position  the 
greater  should  be  your  humility,  for  there  is  not 
much  merit  in  being  humble  in  poverty  and 
obscurity.  If  you  know  how  to  preserve  hu- 

* 1 Cor.  iv.  7. 


The  Siimer’s  Guide . 


333 


utility  in  the  midst  of  honors  and  dignities  you 
will  acquire  real  merit  and  virtue,  for  hu- 
mility in  the  midst  of  greatness  is  the  grand- 
est accompaniment  of  honors,  the  dignity  of 
dignities,  without  which  there  is  no  true  ex- 
cellence. If  you  sincerely  desire  to  acquire 
humility  you  must  courageously  enter  the 
path  of  humiliation,  for  if  you  will  not  endure 
humiliations  you  will  never  become  humble. 
Though  many  are  humbled  without  diminish- 
ing tneir  pride,  humiliation,  as  St.  Bernard 
tells  us,  is  nevertheless  the  path  to  humility, 
as -patience  is  the  path  to  peace,  and  study 
to  learning.  Be  not  satisfied,  therefore,  writii 
humbly  obeying  God,  but  be  subject  to  all 
creatures  for  love  of  Ilim.* 

In  another  place  St.  Bernard  speaks  of 
three  kinds  of  fear  with  which  he  would  have 
us  guard  our  hearts.  “Fear,”  he  says, 
“ when  you  are  in  possession  of  grace,  lest  you 
may  do  something  unworthy  of  it;  fear  when 
you  have  lost  grace,  because  you  are  deprived 
of  a strong  protection  ; and  fear  when  you 
have  recovered  grace,  lest  you  should  again  lose 
it.”  Thus  you  will  never  trust  to  your  own 
strength  ; the  fear  of  God  which  will  fill  your 
heart  will  save  you  from  presumption. 

Be  patient  in  bearing  persecution,  for  the  pa- 
tient endurance  of  affronts  is  the  touchstone  of 
true  humility.  Never  despise  the  poor  and  ab- 
ject, for  their  misery  should  move  us  to  com- 
passion rather  than  contempt.  Be  not  too 
eager  for  rich  apparel,  for  humility  is  incom- 

* 1 St.  Peter  ii.  13. 


334 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


patible  with  a love  of  display.  One  who  is  too 
solicitous  about  his  dress  is  a slave  to  the  opin- 
ions of  men,  for  he  certainly  would  not  expend 
so  much  labor  upon  it  if  he  thought  he  would 
not  be  observed.  Beware,  however,  of  going  to 
the  other  extreme  and  dressing  in  a manner 
unsuited  to  your  position.  While  claiming  to 
despise  the  approbation  or  notice  of  the  world, 
many  secretly  strive  for  it  by  their  singularity 
and  exaggerated  simplicity.  Finally,  do  not 
disdain  humble  and  obscure  employments. 
Only  the  proud  seek  to  avoid  these,  for  the 
man  of  true  humility  deems  nothing  in  the 
world  beneath  him. 


CHAPTER  XXXI. 

KEMEDIES  AGAINST  COVETOUSNESS. 
Section  I. 

Against  Covetousness  in  General . 

COVETOUSNESS  is  an  inordinate  desire  of 
riches.  Hence  we  regard  as  covetous  not 
only  the  man  who  steals,  but  also  the 
man  who  passionately  longs  for  another’s 
goods  or  too  eagerly  clings  to  his  own.  With 
great  force  St.  Paul  condemns  this  vice  and 
declares  it  the  source  of  all  iniquity:  “■  They 
that  will  become  rich  fall  into  temptation  and 
into  the  snare  of  the  devil,  and  into  many  un- 
profitable and  hurtful  desires,  which  drown  men 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


335 


into  destruction  and  perdition;  for  the  desire  of 
money  is  the  root  of  all  evil/5  * 

When  you  are  assailed  by  this  vice  arm  your- 
self with  the  following  considerations  : Re- 
member that  our  Lord  and  Saviour,  at  His  com- 
ing into  this  world,  disdained  to  possess  riches, 
which  are  the  object  of  your  desires.  On  the 
contrary,  He  so  loved  poverty  that  He  chose 
for  his  Mother  not  a rich  and  powerful  queen, 
but  a poor  and  humble  Virgin.  He  willed  to 
be  born,  not  in  a palace,  but  in  a bleak  stable, 
the  manger  of  which,  covered  with  a little 
straw,  was  His  only  couch. 

During  His  life  upon  earth  He  never  ceased 
to  manifest  His  love  for  poverty  and  His  con- 
tempt for  riches.  For  His  Apostles  He  chose 
not  the  princes  of  great  houses,  but  poor  and 
ignorant  fishermen.  What  greater  presump- 
tion can  there  be  than  that  of  a base  worm 
coveting  riches,  when  the  Creator  of  the  uni- 
verse became  so  poor  for  love  of  him  ! 

Consider,  moreover,  your  own  vileness,  since 
you  are  willing  for  a gross  and  perishable  in- 
terest to  sacrifice  your  immortal  soul,  created  to 
the  image  of  God  and  redeemed  by  His  blood, 
compared  with  which  the  whole  world  is  no- 
thing. God  would  not  give  His  life  for  this 
material  world,  but  He  gave  it  for  the  soul  of 
man.  How  much  greater,  therefore,  must  be 
the  value  of  a soul ! True  riches  do  not  con- 
sist in  silver,  or  gold,  or  precious  stones,  but  in 
virtue,  the  inseparable  companion  of  a good 
conscience.  Set  aside  the  vain  opinions  of  men, 

* 1 Tim.  vi.  9,  10. 


336 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


and  you  will  see  that  these  precious  metals  are 
such  only  by  the  judgment  of  the  world.  Will 
you,  who  are  a Christian,  become  a slave  to 
that  which  even  pagan  philosophers  despised  ? 
“ He  who  guards  his  riches  like  a slave  is  their 
victim,”  says  St.  Jerome;  “but  he  who  throws 
off  their  yoke  possesses  them  as  their  lord  and 
master.” 

Consider  also  these  words  of  our  Saviour  : 
“ No  man  can  serve  two  masters,  God  and  mam- 
mon.”* Man  cannot  freely  rise  to  God  and 
the  contemplation  of  His  beauty  while  he  is 
breathless  in  the  pursuit  of  riches.  A heart 
filled  with  material  and  earthly  pleasures  can 
never  know  spiritual  and  divine  joys.  No;  it 
is  impossible  to  unite  what  is  false  with  what  is 
true  ; what  is  spiritual  with  what  is  carnal ; 
what  is  temporal  with  what  is  eternal;  they  can 
never  dwell  together  in  one  heart. 

There  is  another  truth  of  which  you  must 
not  lose  sight : the  more  worldly  prosperity  you 
enjoy  the  more  destitute  you  are  likely  to  be 
of  spiritual  riches,  for  an  abundance  of  this 
world’s  goods  leads  you  to  trust  in  them  rather 
than  in  God.  Oh!  that  you  knew  the  misery 
which  such  prosperity  prepares  for  you  ! The 
desire  of  more  which  springs  from  the  love  of 
riches  is  a torment  which  far  exceeds  the  plea- 
sure we  derive  from  their  possession.  It  will 
entangle  you  in  a thousand  temptations,  fill 
you  with  cares,  and  under  the  delusive  image 
of  pleasure  plunge  you  into  renewed  sin  and 
prove  an  inexhaustible  source  of  trouble  and 

* St.  Matt.  vi.  24. 


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337 


disquiet.  Again,  riches  are  acquired  only  at 
the  expense  of  pain  and  labor ; they  are  pre- 
served only  by  care  and  anxiety ; and  they  are 
never  lost  without  bitter  vexation  and  grief. 
But,  worse  than  all  this,  they  are  rarely  accu- 
mulated without  offence  against  God  ; for,  as 
the  proverb  says,  “A  rich  man  is  either  a 
wicked  man  or  a wicked  man’s  heir.” 

Moreover,  all  the  riches  of  the  world,  did 
you  possess  them,  would  never  satisfy  the  de- 
sires of  your  heart.  They  would  only  excite 
and  increase  them.  However  great  the  posses- 
sions you  accumulate,  there  will  be  a continual 
void  within  you  ; you  will  never  cease  to  long 
for  more.  In  its  pursuit  of  worldly  possessions 
your  poor  heart  fruitlessly  exhausts  itself,  for  it 
will  never  find  content.  It  drinks  deep  at  the 
fountains  of  pleasure,  yet  its  thirst  is  never  ap- 
peased. Its  enjoyment  of  the  possessions  it 
has  already  acquired  is  destroyed  by  an  insatia- 
ble thirst  for  more.  Marvelling  at  the  covet- 
ousness of  the  human  heart,  St.  Augustine  asks: 
“Whence  is  it  that  man  is  so  insatiable  in  his 
desires  while  brutes  observe  a measure  in  theirs? 
They  seek  their  prey  only  when  they  feel  the 
cravings  of  hunger,  and  after  this  is  appeased 
they  are  satisfied  and  rest.  But  the  covetous- 
ness of  the  rich  knows  no  limit ; it  is  never 
satisfied,  but  is  perpetually  seeking  more.” 

Has  not  experience  shown  you  also  that 
where  there  are  great  riches  there  are  many  to 
consume,  to  steal,  or  to  squander  them  ? If 
you  would  free  yourself  from  all  the  anxiety 
consequent  on  these  cares,  put  yourself  in  the 


338 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


hands  of  God  and  fully  confide  in  His  provi- 
dence, for  He  never  forsakes  those  who  trust  in 
Him.  Since  He  lias  subjected  man  to  the  ne- 
cessity of  seeking  food,  He  will  not  permit  him 
to  perish  from  hunger.  Could  God,  Who  cares 
for  the  birds  of  the  air  and  clothes  the  lilies  of 
the  field,  be  indifferent  to  the  necessities  of  one 
of  His  noblest  creatures  ? Life  is  short ; every 
moment  brings  us  nearer  to  death.  Why,  then, 
lay  up  so  much  provision  for  so  short  a jour- 
ney ? Why  burden  yourself  with  so  many  pos- 
sessions which  must  necessarily  impede  your 
progress  ? When  you  will  have  reached  the 
end  of  your  earthly  pilgrimage,  poor  in  this 
world’s  goods,  your  wealth  of  real  treasure  will 
far  exceed  that  of  the  covetous,  whose  lives 
have  been  spent  in  accumulating  riches.  How 
different  will  be  the  account  exacted  of  you, 
and  how  readily  you  will  part  from  the  little 
you  may  have  of  the  goods  of  earth,  because 
you  always  esteemed  them  at  their  true  value  ! 
But  the  rich  and  the  covetous,  in  addition  to 
the  terrible  account  which  will  be  required  of 
them,  will  be  rent  with  anguish  at  parting  from 
that  wealth  which  they  loved  and  adored  dur- 
ing life. 

Besides  the  reflections  I have  suggested,  I 
would  ask:  For  whom  are  you  amassing  these 
goods  ? Do  you  not  know  that  you  must  leave 
this  world  as  poor  and  naked  as  you  entered 
it  ?*  Think  of  this,  says  St.  Jerome,  and  it 
will  be  easy  for  you  to  despise  the  riches  of 
this  world,  f Beware,  then,  lest  in  the  pur- 

* Job  i.  21.  t Ad  Paulin,  in  Prol.  Bib. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


339 


suit  of  these  you  lose  the  treasures  of  eter- 
nity. 

Death  will  rob  you  of  all  your  earthly  pos- 
sessions ; your  works,  good  and  bad,  will  alone 
accompany  you  beyond  the  tomb.  If  this 
dread  hour  find  you  unprepared,  great  will 
be  your  misfortune.  All  that  remains  to  you 
wili  then  be  distributed  into  three  portions, 
your  body  will  become  the  food  of  worms;  your 
soul  the  victim  of  demons,  and  your  wealth  the 
prey  of  eager  and  perhaps  ungrateful  or  ex- 
travagant heirs.  All ! dear  Christian,  follow 
the  counsel  of  our  Saviour  ; share  your  wealth 
with  the  poor,  that  it  may  be  borne  before  you 
into  the  kingdom  which  you  hope  to  enjoy. 
What  folly  to  leave  your  treasures  in  a place 
of  banishment  whither  you  will  never  return, 
instead  of  sending  them  before  you  to  that  coun- 
try which  is  intended  for  your  eternal  home  ! 

Again,  I would  remind  you  that  God,  as  a 
wise  and  sovereign  Euler,  has  appointed  some  of 
His  children  the  depositaries  of  His  power  and 
the  dispensers  of  Iiis  benefits,  to  guide  and 
maintain  the  others.  If  you  are  of  the  num- 
ber of  those  who  from  their  surplus  possessions 
must  contribute  to  the  support  of  the  poor,  do 
you  think  that  you  are  justified  in  expending 
upon  yourself  what  has  been  given  to  you  for 
the  benefit  of  others  ? “ The  bread  which  you 

withhold,”  says  St.  Basil,  “is  the  food  of  the 
poor  ; the  garments  you  conceal  should  clothe 
the  naked ; the  gold  you  accumulate  is  the 
portion  of  the  needy.”  Therefore,  you  rob  the 
poor  whenever  you  refuse  to  succor  them  from 


340 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


your  abundance.  The  riches  you  have  received 
from  jGod  are  meant  to  remedy  human  misery, 
not  to  be  the  instruments  of  a bad  life.  There- 
fore, do  not  let  your  prosperity  cause  you  to 
forget  the  Author  of  all  your  blessings,  and  let 
not  those  blessings  be  a subject  of  vain-glory. 
Do  not,  I conjure  you,  prefer  a land  of  exile  to 
your  true  country.  Do  not  convert  into  obsta- 
cles what  is  meant  to  aid  you  on  your  journey, 
and  do  not  make  of  the  succors  of  life  instru- 
ments of  eternal  death.  Be  content  with  the 
condition  in  which  God  has  placed  you,  bear- 
ing in  mind  the  words  of  the  Apostle  : “Hav- 
ing food  and  wherewith  to  be  covered,  with  these 
we  are  content.”  * “A  servant  of  God,”  says 
St.  Chrysostom,  “should  never  seek  by  his 
dress  to  gratify  his  vanity  or  indulge  his  flesh  ; 
his  only  object  should  be  to  comply  with  the 
necessities  and  requirements  of  his  condition.” 
“Seek  ye,  therefore,  first  the  kingdom  of  God 
and  His  justice,  and  all  these  things  shall  be 
added  unto  you.”  f 

Bemember  also  that  it  is  not  poverty  but 
the  love  of  poverty  which  is  a virtue.  Hence 
all  who  voluntarily  forsake  wealth  bear  a strik- 
ing resemblance  to  our  Saviour,  who,  being  rich 
with  the  riches  of  God,  became  poor  for  love 
of  us.  They  who  are  compelled  to  live  in  pov- 
erty, but  bear  it  with  patience,  never  coveting 
the  wealth  which  is  denied  them,  convert  their 
necessity  into  a meritorious  virtue.  As  the 
poor  by  their  poverty  conform  themselves  to 
Jesus  Christ,  so  the  rich  by  their  alms  can  con- 

* 1 Tim.  vi.  8.  t St.  Matt.  vi.  33. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


341 


form  their  hearts  to  the  merciful  Heart  of  this 
Divine  Model,  Who  in  His  lowly  crib  received 
not  only  the  shepherds  with  their  simple  tokens 
of  affection,  but  also  the  wise  and  powerful 
men  of  the  East,  who  came  to  lay  at  His  feet 
the  treasures  of  their  gold  and  frankincense 
and  myrrh. 

If,  then,  God  has  given  you  wealth,  bestow  it 
generously  on  the  poor,  assured  that  it  will  be 
laid  up  for  you  as  treasure  in  the  kingdom  of 
Heaven ; but  if  you  waste  the  means  God  has 
given  you,  you  must  not  expect  to  find  any  be- 
fore you  when  you  leave  this  life.  Unless  such 
a disposition  is  made  of  your  possessions,  how 
can  you  call  them  good,  since  you  cannot  bear 
them  with  you  and  enjoy  them  in  your  true 
home  ? Lay  up,  then,  by  a worthy  use  of  your 
worldly  wealth,  a store  of  spiritual  possessions, 
which  alone  are  truly  good,  and  of  which,  un- 
less you  freely  surrender  them,  not  even  death 
can  deprive  you. 

Section  II. 

Against  the  unjust  Detention  of  Another's 
Goods. 

In  connection  with  the  evil  of  which  we  are 
treating  let  us  say  a few  words  on  the  sin  of  re- 
taining the  goods  of  another.  Theft  consists 
not  only  in  unjustly  taking  what  belongs  to  an- 
other, but  also  in  unlawfully  retaining  it  against 
the  owner’s  will.  Our  intention  to  restore  it 
later  will  not  suffice  if  we  are  able  to  do  it  at 
once,  for  we  are  obliged  to  make  restitution  as 


342 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


soon  as  possible.  Inability  to  make  immediate 
restitution  justifies  us  in  deferring  it ; while 
continued  poverty,  if  so  great  as  to  afford  us  no 
means,  excuses  us  entirely,  for  God  does  not 
require  what  is  impossible.  We  cannot  better  ] 
explain  this  doctrine  than  by  the  words  of  St. 
Gregory  : “ Remember  that  the  riches  you  have 
unlawfully  acquired  remain  in  this  world,  but 
the  sins  you  committed  in  obtaining  them  will 
accompany  you  into  the  next.  How  great  is 
your  folly,  then,  to  leave  your  profit  here  and 
to  take  only  your  loss  with  you — to  afford  others 
gratification  in  this  world  while  you  endure 
everlasting  sufferings  in  the  world  to  come  !”  * 
The  folly  of  covetousness  goes  still  farther, 
and  causes  you  to  sacrifice  yourself,  your  body 
and  your  soul,  to  your  miserable  possessions. 
You  are  like  a man  who,  to  save  his  coat,  ex- 
poses his  body  to  be  pierced  with  a dagger.  In 
what  does  your  conduct  differ  from  that  of 
Judas,  if  for  a little  money  you  will  sell  justice, 
divine  grace,  your  soul  itself  ? The  hour  of 
death,  at  the  latest,  will  compel  you  to  make 
restitution  if  you  would  save  your  soul.  How 
incomprehensible,  then,  is  the  mad  folly  which 
prompts  you  to  accumulate  your  unlawful  gains, 
and,  by  living  in  sin,  confessing  in  sin,  ap- 
proaching the  Holy  Table  in  sin,  completely 
deprive  yourself  of  spiritual  treasures  which  are 
incomparably  superior  to  all  the  wealth  of  this 
world  ! Is  he  not  devoid  of  reason  who  acts  in 
this  manner  ? Endeavor,  therefore,  to  pay 
what  you  owe,  even  to  the  smallest  sum,  and 

* Epist.  ad  Just.  II. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


343 


permit  no  man  to  suffer  by  your  neglect.*  Do 
not  detain  the  laborer’s  wages,  f Do  not  com- 
pel him  to  seek  and  plead  for  what  justly  be- 
longs to  him,  that  he  may  not  have  reason  to 
say  that  it  was  more  difficult  to  obtain  his  wages 
than  to  earn  them.  If  you  have  the  duties  of 
executor  to  fulfil,  beware  of  defrauding  departed 
souls  of  help  due  them,  lest  their  expiation  may 
be  prolonged  because  of  a neglect  for  which  you 
must  some  day  heavily  atone.  Pay  your  depen- 
dants regularly,  and  let  your  accounts  be  care- 
fully kept,  that  they  may  give  rise  to  no  dis- 
putes or  claims  after  your  death.  Do  not 
wholly  leave  to  those  who  survive  you  the  exe- 
cution of  your  last  wishes,  but  fulfil  them  your- 
self as  far  as  you  are  able  ; for  if  you  are  care- 
less of  your  own  affairs,  how  can  you  expect 
others  to  be  more  diligent  ? 

Make  it  a point  of  honor  to  owe  no  man,  and 
you  will  thus  enjoy  peaceful  slumbers,  a quiet 
conscience,  a contented  life,  and  a happy  death. 
The  means  of  acquiring  these  precious  results  is 
to  control  your  desires  and  appetites  and  to  gov- 
ern your  expenditure  by  your  income,  not  by 
your  caprices.  Our  debts  proceed  from  our  ill- 
regulated,  uncontrolled  desires  more  than  from 
our  necessities,  and  consequently  moderation  is 
more  profitable  than  the  largest  revenues.  Let 
us  be  convinced  that  the  only  real  riches,  the 
only  real  treasures,  are  those  which  the  Apostle 
bids  us  seek  when  he  tells  us  to  fly  covetousness 
and  pursue  justice,  godliness,  faith,  charity, 
patience,  and  mildness,  for  godliness  with  con- 

* Deut.  xxiv.  15.  + Tobias  iv.  15. 


344 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


tentment  is  great  gain.*  Be  contented  witli 
the  position  in  which  God  has  placed  you.  Man 
would  always  enjoy  peace  did  lie  accept  the  por- 
tion which  God  gives  him  ; but,  seeking  to  gra- 
tify ambition  or  cupidity,  which  craves  more 
than  God  has  given  him,  he  exposes  himself  to 
trouble  and  disquiet,  for  real  happiness  or  suc- 
cess can  never  be  known  by  one  who  strives 
against  the  will  of  God. 


CHAPTER  XXXII. 

REMEDIES  AGAINST  LUST. 

SECTION  I. 

General  Remedies . 

LUST  is  an  inordinate  desire  of  unlawful 
pleasures.  It  is  a vice  most  widely  spread 
in  the  world  ; one  that  is  most  violent  in 
its  attacks,  most  insatiable  in  its  cravings. 
Hence  St.  Augustine  says  that  the  severest  war- 
fare which  a Christian  has  to  maintain  is  that 
in  defence  of  chastity,  for  such  combats  are  fre- 
quent, and  victories  rare. 

Whenever  you  are  assailed  by  this  shameful 
vice  resist  it  with  the  following  considerations  : 
Remember,  first,  that  this  disorder  not  only 
stains  your  soul,  purified  by  the  Blood  of  Christ, 
but  defiles  your  body,  in  which  the  thrice 

* 1 Tim.  vi.  6,  11. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


345 


holy  Body  of  Christ  has  been  placed,  as  in 
a shrine.  If  it  be  a sacrilege  to  defile  a material 
temple  dedicated  to  God’s  service,  what  must  it 
be  to  profane  this  living  temple,  which  God  has 
chosen  for  His  dwelling  ? For  this  reason  the 
Apostle  tells  us : “ Fly  fornication.  Every  sin 
that  a man  doth  is  without  the  body,  but  he 
that  committeth  fornication  sinneth  against  his 
own  body.”  * Consider,  secondly,  that  this  de- 
plorable vice  necessarily  involves  scandal  to  nu- 
merous souls  and  the  spiritual  ruin  of  all  who 
participate  in  your  crime.  This  thought  will 
cause  the  sinner  to  suffer  the  greatest  remorse 
at  the  hour  of  death  ; for  if  in  the  Old  Law  God 
required  a life  for  a life,  an  eye  for  an  eye,  a 
tooth  for  a tooth,  f what  satisfaction  can  be 
offered  Him  for  the  destruction  of  so  many 
souls,  purchased  at  the  price  of  His  Blood  ? 

This  treacherous  vice  begins  in  pleasure,  but 
ends  in  an  abyss  of  bitterness  and  remorse. 
There  is  nothing  into  which  man  is  more  easily 
drawn,  but  nothing  from  which  he  is  with  more 
difficulty  freed.  Hence  the  Wise  Man  com- 
pares an  impure  woman  to  a deep  ditch,  a nar- 
row pit,  to  show  how  easily  souls  fall  into  this 
vice,  but  with  what  difficulty  they  are  extricated. 
Man  is  first  allured  by  its  flattering  aspect,  but 
when  he  has  assumed  the  sinful  yoke,  and  par- 
ticularly when  he  has  cast  aside  all  shame,  it 
requires  almost  a miracle  of  grace  to  deliver  him 
from  his  degrading  bondage.  For  this  reason  it 
is  justly  compared  to  a fisherman’s  net,  which 
the  fish  easily  enter,  but  from  which  they  rarely 

* 1 Cor.  vi.  18.  t Exod.  xxi.  23,  24. 


346 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


escape.  Learn,  too,  how  many  sins  spring  from 
this  one  vice  ; for  during  this  long  captivity  of 
the  soul  how  often  is  God  offended  by  thoughts, 
words,  and  desires,  if  not  by  actions  ? 

The  evils  which  it  brings  in  its  train  are  no 
less  numerous  than  the  sins  it  occasions.  It  robs 
man  of  his  reputation — his  most  important  pos- 
session, for  there  is  no  vice  more  degrading  or 
more  shameful.  It  rapidly  undermines  the 
strength,  exhausts  the  energy,  and  withers  the 
beauty  of  its  victim,  bringing  upon  him  the 
most  foul  and  loathsome  diseases.  It  robs 
youth  of  its  freshness,  and  hurries  it  into  a pre- 
mature and  dishonorable  old  age.  It  penetrates 
even  to  the  sanctuary  of  the  soul,  darkening 
the  understanding,  obscuring  the  memory,  and 
weakening  the  will.  It  turns  man  from  every 
noble  and  honorable  work,  burying  him  so  deep- 
ly in  the  mire  of  his  impurities  that  he  can  nei- 
ther think  nor  speak  of  anything  but  what  is 
vile.  Nor  are  the  ravages  of  this  vice  confined 
only  to  man  himself.  They  extend  to  all  his 
possessions.  There  is  no  revenue  so  great  that 
the  exactions  and  follies  of  impurity  will  not 
exhaust ; for  it  is  closely  allied  to  gluttony,  and 
these  two  vices  combine  to  ruin  their  victim. 
Men  given  to  impurity  are  generally  addicted  to 
intemperance,  and  squander  their  substance  in 
rich  apparel  and  sumptuous  living.  Moreover, 
their  impure  idols  are  insatiable  in  their  de- 
mands for  costly  jewels,  rich  adornments,  rare 
perfumes,  which  gifts  they  love  much  better 
than  they  love  the  donors,  their  unfortunate 
victims.  The  example  of  the  prodigal  son, 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


347 


exhausting  his  inheritance  in  these  pleasures, 
shows  how  terrible  is  such  a passion. 

Consider,  farther,  that  the  more  you  indulge 
in  these  infamous  gratifications,  the  more  insa- 
tiable will  be  your  desire  for  them,  the  less  they 
will  satisfy  you.  It  is  the  nature  of  these  plea- 
sures to  excite  the  appetite  rather  than  appease 
it.  If  you  consider  how  fleeting  is  the  pleasure 
and  how  enduring  its  punishment,  you  will  not 
for  a moment’s  enjoyment  sacrifice  the  unspeak- 
able treasure  of  a good  conscience  in  this  life 
and  the  eternal  happiness  of  Heaven  in  the  next. 
St.  Gregory,  therefore,  has  truly  said  that  the 
pleasure  is  momentary,  but  the  suffering  is 
eternal.* 

Consider  also  the  nobility  and  the  value  of 
virginal  purity,  which  this  vice  destroys.  Vir- 
gins begin  here  below  to  live  as  Angels,  for  the 
beauty  of  these  glorious  spirits  is  reflected  in 
the  splendor  of  their  chastity.  “ Living  in  the 
flesh,”  says  St.  Bernard,  “ and  despising  its 
allurements  is  more  angelic  than  human.”  f 
“ Virginity,”  says  St.  Jerome,  “is  the  virtue 
which,  amid  the  corruption  of  this  mortal  life, 
best  represents  the  perfection  of  immortal  glory. 
It  brings  before  us  the  happy  condition  of  the 
celestial  City,  where  there  is  no  marrying,  and 
gives  us  a foretaste  of  eternal  joy.”  J Hence 
virginity  is  specially  rewarded  in  Heaven.  St. 
John  tells  us  that  virgins  follow  the  Lamb 
whithersoever  He  goeth.  § They  have  risen 
above  their  fellow-men  in  their  imitation  of 


* “ Moral.,”  ix.  44. 

X u De  Virginitatis  Laude.' 


t“In  Nat.  Virg.' 
§ Apoc.  xiv.  4. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Christ.  They  will  therefore  be  more  closely 
united  to  Him  for  all  eternity,  and  will  find  in 
the  spotless  purity  of  their  bodies  a source  of 
ineffable  joy. 

Virginity  not  only  renders  man  like  unto 
Christ,  but  makes  him  the  temple  of  the  Holy 
Spirit.  For  this  Divine  Lover  of  purity  abhors 
whatever  is  defiled,  and  delights  to  dwell  in 
chaste  souls.  The  Son  of  God,  Who  was  con- 
ceived of  the  Holy  Ghost,  so  loved  purity  that 
He  wrought  His  greatest  miracle  to  preserve 
the  purity  of  His  Virgin  Mother.  If  you  have 
suffered  the  loss  of  this  beautiful  virtue,  learn 
from  the  temptations  which  wrought  the  evil  to 
guard  against  a second  fall.  If  you  have  not 
preserved  the  gift  of  chastity  in  the  perfection 
in  which  God  gave  it  to  you,  endeavor  to  restore 
the  beauty  of  the  Creator’s  work  by  giving  your- 
self to  His  service  with  a zeal  and  fervor  born 
of  deep  gratitude  for  forgiven  sin,  and  with  an 
ardent  desire  to  repair  the  past.  “It  often 
happens,”  says  St.  Gregory,  “ that  one  who  was 
tepid  and  indifferent  before  his  fall  becomes, 
through  repentance,  a strong  and  fervent  sol- 
dier of  Christ.”  * Finally,  since  God  continued 
to  preserve  your  life  after  you  had  so  basely  of- 
fended Him,  profit  by  this  benefit  to  serve  Him 
and  make  reparation  for  your  sins,  lest  another 
fall  should  be  irremediable. 


* “ Past.,”  p.  1. 


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349 


Section  II. 

Particular  Remedies. 

Besides  these  general  remedies  there  are  others 
more  special,  and  perhaps  more  efficacious. 
The  first  of  these  is  vigorously  to  resist  the  first 
attacks  of  this  vice.  If  we  do  not  resist  it  in 
the  beginning  it  rapidly  acquires  strength  and 
gains  an  entrance  to  our  souls.  “ When  a taste 
for  sinful  pleasures/5  says  St.  Gregory,  “ takes 
possession  of  a heart,  it  thinks  of  nothing  but 
how  to  gratify  its  inordinate  desires.55*  We 
must,  then,  struggle  against  it  from  the  begin- 
ning by  repelling  every  bad  thought,  for  by  such 
fuel  is  the  flame  of  impurity  fed.  As  wood 
nourishes  fire,  so  our  thoughts  nourish  our  de- 
sires ; and,  consequently,  if  the  former  be  good 
charity  will  burn  in  our  breast,  but  if  they  are 
bad  the  fire  of  lust  will  certainly  be  kindled. 

In  the  second  place,  we  must  carefully  guard 
our  senses,  particularly  the  eyes,  that  they  may 
not  rest  upon  anything  capable  of  exciting  sin- 
ful desires.  A man  may  inflict  a deep  wound 
upon  his  soul  by  inconsiderately  turning  his 
eyes  upon  a dangerous  object.  Pruden  tly  guard 
your  eyes  in  your  intercourse  with  the  other 
sex,  for  such  glances  weaken  virtue.  Hence  we 
are  told  by  the  Holy  Ghost : “ Look  not  round 
about  thee  in  the  ways  of  the  city.  Turn  away 
thy  face  from  a woman  dressed  up,  and  gaze  not 
upon  another’s  beauty.55  f Think  of  Job,  that 
great  servant  of  God,  of  such  tried  virtue,  who 
kept  so  vigilant  a guard  over  his  senses  that,  in 

* “Moral.,”  xxi.  7.  + Ecclus.  ix.  7,  8. 


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the  expressive  language  of  Scripture,  he  made 
a covenant  with  his  eyes  not  so  much  as  to  think 
upon  a virgin.4.  Behold  also  the  example  of 
David,  who,  though  declared  by  God  to  have 
been  a man  after  His  own  Heart,  yet  fell  into 
three  grievous  crimes  by  inconsiderately  looking 
upon  a woman. 

Be  no  less  watchful  in  protecting  your  ears 
from  impure  discourses.  If  unbecoming  words 
are  uttered  in  your  presence  testify  your  dis- 
pleasure by  at  least  a grave  and  serious  counte- 
nance ; for,what  we  hear  with  pleasure  we  learn 
to  do  with  complacency.  Guard  with  equal 
care  your  tongue.  Let  no  immodest  words  es- 
cape you  ; for  “ evil  communications/’  says  the 
Apostle,  “corrupt  good  morals.”  f A man’s 
conversation  discovers  his  inclination,  for,  to 
quote  the  words  of  the  Gospel,  from  the  abun- 
dance of  the  heart  the  mouth  speaketh. 

Endeavor  to  keep  your  mind  occupied  with 
good  thoughts  and  your  body  employed  in  some 
profitable  exercise,  “for  the  devil,”  says  St. 
Bernard,  “fills  idle  souls  with  bad  thoughts,  so 
that  they  may  be  thinking  of  evil  if  they  do  not 
actually  commit  it.” 

In  ail  temptations,  but  particularly  in  temp- 
tations against  purity,  remember  the  presence 
of  your  guardian  Angel  and  of  the  devil,  your 
accuser,  for  they  both  witness  all  your  actions, 
and  will  render  an  account  of  them  to  Him  Who 
sees  and  judges  all  things.  If  you  follow  this 
counsel,  how  can  you,  before  your  accuser,  your 
defender,  and  your  Judge,  commit  a base  sin, 

* Job  xxxi.  1.  1 1 Cor.  xv.  33. 


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351 


for  which  you  would  blush  before  the  lowest  of 
men  ? Remember  also  the  terrible  tribunal  of 
God’s  judgment  and  the  eternal  flames  of  hell ; 
for  as  a greater  pain  makes  us  insensible  to  a 
less,  so  the  thought  of  the  inexhaustible  fire  of 
hell  will  render  us  insensible  to  the  fire  of  con- 
cupiscence. 

In  addition  to  all  this,  be  very  guarded  in 
your  intercourse  with  women,  and  beware  of 
continuing  alone  with  one  for  any  length  of 
time ; for,  according  to  St.  Chrysostom,  the 
enemy  attacks  men  and  women  more  vigorously 
when  he  finds  them  alone.  He  is  bolder  when 
there  are  no  witnesses  present  to  thwart  his  ar- 
tifices. Avoid  the  society  of  women  who  are 
not  above  suspicion,  for  their  words  inflame  the 
heart,  their  glances  wound  the  soul,  and  every- 
thing about  them  is  a snare  to  those  who  visit 
them  with  imprudent  familiarity.  Be  mindful 
of  the  example  of  the  elders,*  and  let  not  old 
age  render  you  less  prudent.  Do  not  trust  to 
your  own  strength  ; and  let  not  a habit  of  vir- 
tue inspire  you  with  presumptuous  confidence. 
Let  there  be  no  improper  interchange  of  pre- 
sents, visits,  or  letters,  for  these  are  so  many 
snares  which  entangle  us  and  reawaken  danger- 
ous affections.  If  you  experience  any  friendship 
for  a virtuous  woman  let  your  intercourse  be 
marked  by  grave  respect,  and  avoid  seeing  her 
too  often  or  conversing  too  familiarly  with  her. 
But,  as  one  of  the  most  important  remedies  is 
avoiding  dangerous  occasions,  we  shall  give  an 
example  from  the  “ Dialogues  ” of  St.  Gregory  to 

* Dan.  xiii. 


% 


352 


The  Sinners  Guide . 


show  you  with  what  prudence  holy  souls  guard 
this  angelic  virtue. 

There  lived  in  the  province  of  Mysia  a holy 
priest  who  was  filled  with  the  fear  of  God,  and 
who  governed  his  church  with  zeal  and  wisdom. 
A very  virtuous  woman  had  charge  of  the  altar 
and  church  furniture.  This  holy  soul  the  priest 
loved  as  a sister,  but  he  was  as  guarded  in  his 
intercourse  with  her  as  if  she  were  his  enemy. 
He  never  permitted  her  to  approach  him  or  con- 
verse familiarly  with  him,  or  enter  his  dwelling, 
thus  removing  all  occasions  of  familiarity  ; for 
the  Saints  not  only  reject  unlawful  gratifica- 
tions, but  forbid  themselves  even  innocent  plea- 
sures when  there  is  the  slightest  indication  of 
danger  to  the  soul.  For  this  reason  the  good 
priest  would  never  allow  her  to  minister  to  him 
even  in  his  extreme  necessities.  At  an  advanced 
age,  after  he  had  been  forty  years  in  the  sacred 
ministry,  lie  fell  gravely  ill,  and  was  soon  al- 
most at  the  point  of  death.  As  he  lay  in  this 
condition,  the  good  woman,  wishing  to  discover 
whether  he  still  lived,  bent  over  him  and  put 
her  ear  to  his  mouth  to  listen  to  his  breathing. 
The  dying  man,  perceiving  her,  indignantly 
exclaimed:  “Get  thee  hence,  woman!  Get 
thee  hence  ! The  fire  still  glows  in  the  embers. 
Beware  of  kindling  it  with  straw  ! ” As  she 
withdrew  he  seemed  to  gain  new  strength,  and, 
raising  his  eyes,  he  cried  out  with  a glad  voice  : 
“ Oh  ! happy  hour  ! Welcome,  my  lords,  wel- 
come ! I thank  you  for  deigning  to  visit  so 
poor  a servant.  I come  ! I come  ! 75  He  re- 
peated these  words  several  times,  and  when  they 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


353 


who  were  present  asked  him  to  whom  he  spoke, 
he  said  with  astonishment  : “ Do  you  not  see 
the  glorious  Apostles  St.  Peter  and  St.  Paul  ?” 
And,  raising  his  eyes,  he  again  cried  : “I  come! 
I come  ! ” and  as  he  uttered  these  words  he  gave 
up  his  soul  to  God.  An  end  so  glorious  wras  the 
result  of  a prudent  vigilance  which  cannot  be 
too  highly  extolled  ; and  such  confidence  at  the 
hour  of  death  seemed  a fitting  reward  for  one 
who  during  life  had  been  filled  with  a holy  fear 
of  God.* 


CHAPTER  XXXIII. 

REMEDIES  AGAINST  ENVY. 

ENVY  consists  in  grieving  at  another’s  good 
or  repining  at  another’s  happiness.  The 
envious  man  looks  with  hatred  upon  his 
superiors  who  excel  him,  upon  his  equals 
who  compete  with  him,  upon  his  inferiors  who 
strive  to  equal  him.  Saul’s  envy  of  David  and 
the  Pharisees’  envy  of  Christ  could  only  be  satis- 
fied by  death  ; for  it  is  the  character  of  this 
cruel  vice  to  stop  at  nothing  until  it  has  com- 
passed its  end.  Of  its  nature  it  is  a mortal  sin, 
because,  like  hatred,  it  is  directly  opposed  to 
charity.  However,  in  this,  as  in  other  sins, 
there  are  degrees  which  do  not  constitute  a 
mortal  sin,  as,  for  example,  when  hatred  or 
envy  is  not  grave,  or  when  the  will  does  not 
fully  consent. 


* Dial.  iv.  11. 


354 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Envy  is  a most  powerful,  a most  injurious 
vice.  It  is  spread  all  over  the  world,  but  pre- 
dominates particularly  in  the  courts  of  kings 
and  in  the  society  of  the  rich  and  powerful. 
Who,  then,  can  be  free  from  its  attacks  ? Who 
is  so  fortunate  as  to  be  neither  the  slave  nor  the 
object  of  envy  ? From  the  beginning  of  the 
world  history  abounds  with  examples  of  this 
fatal  vice,  it  was  the  cause  of  the  first  fratri- 
cide which  stained  the  earth,  when  Cain  killed 
Abel.*  It  existed  between  the  brothers  Rofftu- 
lus  and  Remus,  the  founders  of  Rome,  and  the 
latter  fell  a victim  to  the  envy  of  the  former. 
Behold  its  effects  in  the  brothers  of  Joseph,  who 
sold  him  as  a slave  ; f in  Aaron  and  Mary,  the 
brother  and  sister  of  Moses.  J Even  the  dis- 
ciples of  our  Lord,  before  the  coming  of  the 
Holy  Ghost,  were  not  wholly  free  from  it.  Ah  ! 
when  we  see  such  examples,  what  must  we  ex- 
pect to  find  among  worldlings,  who  are  far  from 
possessing  such  sanctity,  and  who  are  seldom 
bound  to  one  another  by  any  ties  ? Nothing 
can  give  us  an  idea  of  the  power  of  this  vice  or 
the  ravages  it  effects.  Good  men  are  its  natural 
prey,  for  it  attacks  with  its  poisoned  dart  all 
virtue  and  all  talent.  Hence  Solomon  says  that 
all  the  labors  and  industries  of  men  are  exposed 
to  the  envy  of  their  neighbors.  § 

Therefore,  you  must  diligently  arm  yourself 
against  the  attacks  of  such  an  enemy,  and  un- 
ceasingly ask  God  to  deliver  you  from  it.  Let 
your  efforts  against  it  be  firm  and  constant.  If 


* Gen.  iv. 

% Numbers  xii. 


t Gen.  xxxvii. 
§ Eccles.  iv.  4. 


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355 


it  persevere  in  its  attacks,  continue  to  oppose 
an  obstinate  resistance,  and  make  little  account 
of  the  unworthy  sentiments  it  suggests.  If 
your  neighbor  enjoy  a prosperity  which  is  de- 
nied you,  rhank  God  for  it,  persuaded  that  you 
have  not  merited  it  or  that  it  would  not  be  salu- 
tary for  you.  Kemember,  moreover,  that  envy- 
ing the  prosperity  of  others  does  not  alleviate 
your  own  misery,  but  rather  increases  it. 

To  strengthen  your  aversion  to  this  vice  make 
use  of  the  following  reflections:  Consider,  first, 
what  a resemblance  the  envious  man  bears  to 
the  devils,  wdio  look  with  rage  upon  our  good 
works  and  the  heavenly  reward  we  are  to  receive 
for  them.  They  have  no  hope  of  the  happiness 
of  which  they  would  deprive  us,  for  they  know 
that  they  have  irretrievably  lost  it ; but  they 
are  unwilling  that  beings  created  out  of  dust 
should  enjoy  honors  of  which  they  have  been 
dispossessed.  For  this  reason  St.  Augustine 
says  : “ May  God  preserve  from  this  vice  not 
only  the  hearts  of  all  Christians,  but  of  all  men, 
for  it  is  the  special  vice  of  devils,  and  one  which 
causes  them  the  most  hopeless  suffering.”  The 
crime  of  Satan  is  not  theft  or  impurity,  but  en- 
viously seeking,  after  his  fall,  to  make  man  imi- 
tate his  rebellion.  This  is  truly  the  feeling 
which  actuates  the  envious.  Oftentimes  the 
prosperity  of  others  is  no  prejudice  to  them  ; 
they  could  not  profit  by  wdiat  they  strive  to  take 
from  their  neighbor  ; but  they  would  have  all 
equally  miserable  with  themselves.  If,  then, 
the  possessions  which  you  envy  in  another  could 
not  be  yours  were  he  dispossessed  of  them,  why 


356 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


should  they  be  a cause  of  grief  to  you  ? When 
you  envy  the  virtue  of  another  you  are  your  own 
greatest  enemy  ; for  if  you  continue  in  a state  of 
grace,  united  to  your  neighbor  through  charity, 
you  have  a share  in  all  his  good  works,  and  the 
more  he  merits  the  richer  you  become.  So  far, 
therefore,  from  envying  his  virtue,  you  should 
find  it  a source  of  consolation.  Alas  ! because 
your  neighbor  is  advancing  will  you  fall  back  ? 
Ah  ! if  you  would  love  in  him  the  virtues  which 
you  do  not  find  in  yourself,  you  would  share  in 
them  through  charity  ; the  profit  of  his  labors 
would  also  become  yours. 

Consider,  moreover,  how  envy  corrodes  the 
heart,  weakens  the  understanding,  destroys  all 
peace  of  soul,  and  condemns  us  to  a melancholy 
and  intolerable  existence.  Like  the  worm  which 
eats  the  wood  in  which  it  is  engendered,  it  preys 
upon  the  heart  in  which  it  was  given  birth.  Its 
ravages  extend  even  to  the  countenance,  whose 
paleness  testifies  to  the  passion  which  rages 
within.  This  vice  is  itself  the  severest  judge 
against  its  victim,  for  the  envious  man  is  sub- 
jected to  its  severest  tortures.  Hence  certain 
authors  have  termed  it  a just  vice,  not  meaning 
that  it  is  good,  for  it  is  a most  heinous  sin,  but 
meaning  that  it  is  its  own  greatest  punishment. 

Consider,  again,  how  opposed  is  the  sin  of 
envy  to  charity,  which  is  God,  and  to  the  com- 
mon good,  which  everjr  one  should  promote  to 
the  best  of  his  ability  ; for  when  we  envy  an- 
other’s good,  when  we  hate  those  to  whom  God 
unceasingly  manifests  His  love,  when  we  perse- 
cute those  whom  He  created  and  redeemed,  do 


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357 


we  not.  at  least  in  desire,  strive  to  undo  the 
work  of  God  ? 

But  a more  efficacious  remedy  against  this 
vice  is  to  love  humility  and  abhor  pride,  which 
is  the  father  of  envy.  A proud  man,  who 
cannot  brook  a superior  or  an  equal,  naturally 
envies  all  who  appear  to  excel  him,  persuad- 
ing himself  that  he  descends  in  proportion  as 
another  rises.  Hence  the  Apostle  says:  “ Let 
us  not  be  desirous  of  vain-glory,  provoking  one 
another,  envying  one  another.”  * In  other 
words,  let  us  destroy  the  root  of  envy,  which  is 
vain-glory.  Let  us  wean  our  hearts  from  world- 
ly honors  and  possessions,  and  seek  only  spiritual 
riches,  for  such  treasures  are  not  diminished 
when  enjoyed  by  numbers,  but,  on  the  contrary, 
are  increased.  It  is  otherwise  with  the  goods 
of  the  earth,  which  must  decrease  in  proportion 
to  the  numbers  who  share  them.  For  this  rea- 
son envy  finds  easy  access  to  the  soul  which 
covets  the  riches  of  this  life,  where  one  neces- 
sarily loses  what  another  gains. 

Do  not  be  satisfied  with  feeling  no  grief  at  the 
prosperity  of  your  neighbor,  but  endeavor  to 
benefit  him  all  you  can,  and  the  good  you  can- 
not give  him  ask  God  to  grant  him.  Hate  no 
man.  Love  your  friends  in  God,  and  your  ene- 
mies for  God.  He  so  loved  you  while  you  were 
still  His  enemy  that  He  shed  the  last  drop  of 
His  Blood  to  save  you  from  the  tyranny  of  your 
sins.  Your  neighbor  may  be  wicked,  but  that 
is  no  reason  for  hating  him.  In  such  a case 
imitate  the  example  of  a wise  physician,  who 

* Gal.  v.  26. 


358 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


loves  his  patient,  but  hates  his  disease.  We 
must  abhor  sin,  which  is  the  work  of  man,  but 
w^e  must  always  love  our  neighbor,  who  is  the 
work  of  God.  Never  say  in  your  heart : What 
is  my  neighbor  to  me  ? I owe  him  nothing. 
We  are  bound  by  no  ties  of  blood  or  interest. 
He  has  never  done  me  a favor,  but  has  probably 
injured  me.”  Reflect  rather  on  the  benefits 
which  God  unceasingly  bestowrs  upon  you,  and 
remember  that  all  He  asks  in  return  is  that  you 
be  charitable  and  generous,  not  to  Him,  for  He 
has  no  need  of  you  or  your  possessions,  but  to 
your  neighbor,  whom  He  has  recommended  to 
your  love. 


CHAPTER  XXXIV. 

REMEDIES  AGAINST  GLUTTONY. 

GLUTTONY  is  an  inordinate  love  of  eating 
and  drinking.  Our  Saviour  warns  us 
against  this  vice,  saying  : “ Take  heed  to 
yourselves  lest  your  hearts  be  overcharged 
with  surfeiting,  and  drunkenness,  and  the  cares 
of  this  life.”  * 

When  you  feel  the  promptings  of  this  shame- 
ful disorder,  subdue  them  by  the  following  con- 
siderations : Call  to  mind  that  it  vras  a sin  of 
gluttony  which  brought  death  into  the  world, 
and  that  it  is  the  first  and  most  important  passion 
to  be  conquered,  for  upon  the  subjugation  of 
this  vice  depends  your  victory  over  all  others. 

* St.  Luke  xxi.  34. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


359 


We  cannot  successfully  battle  with  enemies 
abroad  when  the  forces  within  us  are  in  a state 
of  rebellion.  Thus  we  see  that  the  devil  first 
tempted  our  Saviour  to  gluttony,  wishing  to 
make  himself  master  of  the  avenue  through 
which  all  other  vices  find  an  easy  entrance. 

Consider  also  our  Saviour’s  extraordinary  hist 
in  the  desert  and  the  many  other  rigorous  mor- 
tifications which  He  imposed  upon  His  sacred 
Body,  not  only  to  expiate  our  excesses,  but  to 
give  us  a salutary  example.  How,  then,  can  you 
call  yourself  a follower  of  Christ,  if,  when  He 
fasts,  you  abandon  yourself  to  the  gross  plea- 
sures of  the  table  ? He  refuses  no  labor,  no 
suffering,  to  redeem  you,  and  you  will  do  no- 
thing for  your  own  salvation  ! 

If  you  find  abstinence  difficult  think  of  the 
gall  and  vinegar  which  were  given  to  our  Sa- 
viour on  the  Cross;  for  as  St.  Bernard  tells  us, 
there  is  no  food  so  unpleasant  that  it  may  not 
be  made  palatable  by  mingling  it  with  this  bit- 
ter draught.  Frequently  reflect  upon  the  ter- 
rible austerities  and  wonderful  fasts  observed 
by  the  Fathers  of  the  desert ; how  they  fled 
from  the  world  to  remote  solitude,  where,  after 
the  example  of  Christ,  they  crucified  their  flesh 
with  all  its  irregular  appetites,  and,  sustained 
by  God’s  grace,  subsisted  for  many  years  on  no 
other  food  but  roots  and  herbs.  Behold  how 
these  men  imitated  their  Divine  Model ; behold 
what  they  thought  necessary  to  reach  Heaven. 
How  can  you  gain  this  same  Heaven  by  the 
path  of  gross  and  sensual  pleasures  ? Think 
of  the  innumerable  poor  wTho  are  in  need  of 


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bread  ; and  at  the  sight  of  God’s  liberality  to 
you,  blush  to  make  the  gifts  of  His  bounty  in- 
struments of  gluttony.  Consider,  again,  how 
often  the  Sacred  Host  has  rested  upon  your 
tongue,  and  do  not  permit  death  to  enter  by 
that  gate  through  which  life  is  conveyed  to 
your  soul. 

We  may  say  of  gluttony  what  we  have  said 
of  impurity,  that  its  pleasures  are  equally 
restricted  and  fleeting.  Yet  earth,  sea,  and  air 
seem  unable  to  gratify  this  passion,  for  many 
crimes  are  perpetrated,  the  poof  are  defrauded 
and  oppressed,  and  little  ones  compelled  to 
suffer  hunger,  to  satisfy  the  sensuality  of  the 
great.  It  is  deplorable  to  think  that  for  the 
gratification  of  one  sense  man  condemns  him- 
self body  and  soul  to  eternal  suffering.  What 
incomprehensible  folly  to  flatter  with  such 
delicate  care  a body  which  is  destined  to  be  the 
food  of  worms  ! For  this  miserable  body  you 
neglect  your  soul,  which  will  appear  before  the 
tribunal  of  God  as  poor  in  virtues  as  its  earthly 
companion  is  rich  in  sensual  pleasures.  Nor 
will  the  body  escape  the  punishment  to  which 
the  soul  will  be  condemned.  Having  been 
created  for  the  soul,  it  will  share  its  sufferings. 
Thus  by  neglecting  the  nobler  part  of  your  be- 
ing to  devote  yourself  to  the  inferior,  you  lose 
both  and  become  your  own  executioner. 

To  excite  in  your  heart  a salutary  fear  of  this 
vice,  recall  to  mind  what  is  related  in  the  Gos- 
pel of  Lazarus,  of  his  poverty,  of  his  hunger 
which  craved  the  crumbs  which  fell  from  the 
rich  man’s  table,  and  how  he  was  carried  by 


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361 


Angels  to  Abraham’s  bosom  ; while  the  rich 
man,  who  fed  upon  delicacies  and  was  clothed 
in  purple  and  fine  linen,  was  buried  in  the 
depths  of  hell.  Moderation  and  gluttony,  tem- 
perance and  excess,  will  not  reap  the  same 
fruit  in  the  next  world.  To  patient  suffering 
will  succeed  ineffable  happiness,  and  sensual 
pleasures  will  be  followed  by  eternal  misery. 
What  remains  to  you  now  of  the  pleasures  of 
your  guilty  excesses  ? Nothing  but  remorse  of 
conscience,  which  will  be  the  principal  torture 
of  the  life  to  come.  All  that  you  have  layi sh- 
ed upon  your  un governed  appetite  you  have  ir- 
revocably lost,  but  what  you  have  given  to  the 
poor  is  still  yours,  for  its  merit  is  laid  up  in  the 
kingdom  of  Heaven. 

That  you  may  not  be  deceived  by  the  snares 
of  this  vice  disguised  as  necessities,  govern 
your  appetite  by  reason,  not  by  inclination. 
Remember  that  your  soul  can  never  rule  the 
flesh,  if  it  be  not  itself  submissive  to  God. 
This  submission  will  be  the  rule  and  founda- 
tion of  its  empire.  Let  God  command  our 
reason  ; let  reason  direct  the  soul,  and  the  soul 
will  be  able  to  govern  the  body.  By  observing 
this  wise  order  decreed  by  the  Creator  the 
whole  man  will  be  reformed.  But  when  the 
soul  rebels  against  reason,  and  reason  against 
God,  the  body  will  soon  rebel  against  the  soul. 

If  tempted  by  gluttony,  remember  that  you 
have  already  tasted  its  pleasures  and  that  they 
endured  but  a moment.  They  passed  like  a 
dream,  except  that  while  the  light  of  day  dis- 
pels the  images  of  the  night,  the  remorse  for 


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gluttony  remains  long  after  its  pleasure  has  de- 
parted. But  overcome  this  enemy,  and  you 
will  experience  consolation  and  peace.  There- 
fore, the  following  wise  saying  has  justly  be- 
come celebrated:  “If  you  find  difficulty  in 
the  performance  of  a virtuous  action,  the  trou- 
ble is  soon  past  and  the  virtue  remains  ; but  if 
you  take  pleasure  in  committing  a base  action, 
its  pleasure  disappears,  but  its  shame  continues 
with  you.”  * 


CHAPTER  XXXV. 

REMEDIES  AGAINST  AKGER  AXD  HATRED. 

AXGER  is  an  inordinate  desire  of  revenge. 
Against  this  vice  the  Apostle  strongly 
speaks  : “Let  all  bitterness  and  anger, 
and  indignation  and  clamor,  and  blas- 
phemy be  put  away  from  you,  with  all  malice. 
And  be  ye  kind  one  to  another,  merciful,  for- 
giving one  another,  even  as  God  hath  forgiven 
you  in  Christ.”  f And  our  Saviour  Himself 
tells  us  : “Whosoever  is  angry  with  his  brother 
shall  be  in  danger  of  the  judgment.  And  who- 
soever shall  sav,  Thou  fool,  shall  be  in  danger 
of  hell-fire.”  f 

When  this  furious  enemy  assails  you  let  the 
following  considerations  help  you  overcome  its 
movements:  Consider,  first,  that  even  beasts 
live  at  peace  with  their  kind.  Elephants  do 

* Aul.  Gel.,  “ Noct.  Attic.,”  viii.  15. 
t Ephee.  iv.  31,  32.  $ St.  Matt.  v.  22. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


363 


not  war  upon  one  another;  sheep  live  peaceably 
in  one  fold ; and  cattle  go  together  in  herds. 
We  see  the  cranes  taking  by  turns  the  place  of 
guard  at  night.  Storks,  stags,  dolphins,  and 
other  creatures  do  the  same.  Who  does  not 
know  of  the  friendship  between  the  ants  and 
the  bees  ? Even  the  wildest  animals  live  united 
among  themselves.  One  lion  is  rarely  known 
to  attack  another,  neither  will  a tiger  devour 
one  of  his  kind.  Yes,  even  the  infernal  spirits, 
the  first  authors  of  all  discord,  are  united  in  a 
common  purpose — the  perversion  of  mankind. 
Man  alone,  for  whom  peace  is  most  fitting, 
lives  at  enmity  with  his  fellow-men  and  in- 
dulges in  implacable  hatred.  All  animals  are 
born  with  weapons  for  combat.  The  bull  has 
horns ; the  boar  has  tusks ; the  bird  has  a 
beak  and  claws;  the  bee  has  a sting,  and  even 
the  tiny  fly  or  other  insect  has  power  to  bite. 
But  man,  destined  to  live  at  peace  with  his 
fellow-creatures,  comes  into  the  world  naked 
and  unarmed.  Reflect,  then,  how  contrary  to 
your  rightful  nature  it  is  to  seek  to  be  revenged 
upon  one  of  your  kind,  to  return  evil  for  evil, 
particularly  by  making  use  of  weapons  which 
nature  has  denied  you. 

In  the  second  place,  a thirst  for  vengeance 
is  a vice  which  befits  only  savage  beasts.  You 
belie  your  origin,  you  disgrace  your  descent, 
when  you  indulge  in  ungovernable  rage,  worthy 
only  of  a wild  animal.  iElian  tells  of  a lion 
that  had  been  wounded  by  an  African  in  a 
mountain  defile.  A year  after,  when  this  man 
passed  the  same  way  in  the  suite  of  King  Juba, 


364 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


the  lion,  recognizing  him,  rushed  among  the 
royal  guards,  and,  before  he  could  be  restrained, 
fell  upon  his  enemy  and  tore  him  to  pieces. 
Such  is  the  model  of  the  angry,  vindictive  man. 
Instead  of  calming  his  fierce  rage  by  the 
power  of  reason,  that  noble  gift  which  he 
shares  with  the  Angels,  he  abandons  himself 
to  the  blind  impulse  of  passions  which  he 
possesses  in  common  with  the  brutes. 

If  it  be  hard  to  subdue  your  anger,  excited  by 
an  injury  from  one  of  your  fellow-creatures,  con- 
sider how  much  more  God  has  borne  from  you 
and  how  much  He  has  endured  for  you.  Were 
you  not  His  enemy  when  He  shed  the  last  drop 
of  His  blood  for  you  ? And  behold  with  what 
sweetness  and  patience  He  bears  with  your 
daily  offences  against  Him,  and  with  what 
mercy  and  tenderness  He  receives  you  when 
you  return  to  Him. 

If  anger  urge  that  your  enemy  does  not  de- 
serve forgiveness,  ask  yourself  how  far  you 
have  merited  God’s  pardon.  Will  you  have 
God  exercise  only  mercy  towards  you,  when  you 
pursue  your  neighbor  with  implacable  hatred  ? 
And  if  it  be  true  that  your  enemy  does  not  de- 
serve pardon  from  you,  it  will  be  equally  true 
that  you  do  not  deserve  pardon  from  God. 
Remember  that  the  pardon  which  man  has  not 
merited  for  himself  Christ  has  superabundant- 
ly merited  for  him.  For  love  of  Him,  there- 
fore, forgive  all  who  have  offended  you. 

Be  assured,  moreover,  that  as  long  as  hatred 
predominates  in  your  heart  you  can  make  no 
voffering  which  will  be  acceptable  to  God,  Who 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


365 


has  said  : “ If  thou  offer  thy  gift  at  the  altar, 
and  there  thou  remember  that  thy  brother  hath 
anything  against  thee,  leave  there  thy  offering 
before  the  altar,  and  go  first  to  be  reconciled  to 
thy  brother,  and  then  coming  thou  shalt  offer 
thy  gift.”*  Hence  you  can  realize  how  griev- 
ous is  the  sin  of  enmity  among  men,  since  it 
causes  an  enmity  between  God  and  us,  and  de- 
stroys the  merit  of  all  our  good  works.  “ We 
gain  no  merit  from  good  works,”  says  St.  Greg- 
ory, “if  we  have  not  learned  to  endure  injuries 
with  patience.”  f 

Consider  also  that  the  fellow-creature  whom 
you  hate  is  either  a just  man  or  a sinner.  If  a 
just  man,  it  is  certainly  a great  misfortune  to 
be  the  declared  enemy  of  a friend  of  God.  If 
a sinner,  it  is  no  less  deplorable  that  you  should 
undertake  to  punish  the  malice  of  another 
by  plunging  your  own  soul  into  sin.  And  if 
your  neighbor  in  his  turn  seek  vengeance  for 
the  injury  you  inflict  upon  him,  where  will 
your  enmities  end?  Will  there  be  any  peace  on 
the  earth  ? 

The  Apostle  teaches  us  a more  noble  revenge 
when  he  tells  us  “not  to  be  overcome  by  evil, 
but  to  overcome  evil  by  good  ” J — that  is,  to 
triumph  by  our  virtues  over  the  vices  of  our 
brethren.  In  endeavoring  to  be  revenged  upon 
a fellow-creature  you  are  often  disappointed 
and  vanquished  by  anger  itself.  But  if  you 
overcome  your  passion  you  gain  a more  glori- 
ous victory  than  he  who  conquers  a city.  Our 
noblest  triumph  is  won  by  subduing  ourselves, 

* St.  Matt.  v.  23,  24.  t “ Moral.,”  xxi.  16.  % Rom.  xii.  21. 


366 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


by  subjecting  our  passions  to  the  empire  of 
reason. 

Besides  these,  reflect  on  the  fatal  blindness 
into  which  this  passion  leads  man.  Under  the 
cover  of  justice  or  right  how  often  does  it 
drive  him  to  excesses  which  cause  him  a life- 
long remorse  ! 

The  most  efficacious,  the  sovereign  remedy 
against  this  vice  is  to  pluck  from  your  heart  in- 
ordinate love  of  self  and  of  everything  that  per- 
tains to  you.  Otherwise  the  slightest  word  or 
action  directed  against  you  or  your  interests  will 
move  you  to  anger.  The  more  you  are  inclined 
to  this  vice  the  more  persevering  you  should  be 
in  the  practice  of  patience.  Accustom  yourself, 
as  far  as  you  can,  calmly  to  face  the  contradic- 
tions and  disappointments  you  are  likely  to  en- 
counter, and  their  effect  upon  you  will  thus  be 
greatly  diminished.  Make  a firm  resolution 
never  to  speak  or  act  under  the  influence  of 
anger,  nor  to  heed  any  suggestions,  however 
plausible,  which  your  heart  may  urge  at  such 
moments.  Never  act  until  your  anger  has  sub- 
sided, or  until  you  have  once  or  twice  repeated 
the  Our  Father  or  some  other  prayer.  Plu- 
tarch tells  of  a wise  man  who,  on  taking  leave 
of  a monarch,  advised  him  never  to  speak  or 
act  in  anger,  but  to  wait  until  he  had  repeated 
to  himself  the  letters  of  the  alphabet.  Learn 
a lesson  from  this,  and  avoid  the  evil  conse- 
quences of  acting  from  the  impulse  of  anger. 

Though  there  is  no  time  more  unfavorable 
for  action,  yet  there  is  no  time  in  which  we  feel 
ourselves  more  strongly  impelled  to  act  than 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


367 


when  in  anger.  This  is  an  additional  reason 
for  opposing  with  all  our  strength  the  sugges- 
tions of  this  passion.  For  as  a man  intoxicated 
with  wine  is  incapable  of  acting  according  to 
reason,  and  afterwards  repents  of  what  he  has 
done  in  such  a condition,  so  a man  beside  him- 
self with  passion,  intoxicated  with  anger,  is  in- 
capable of  any  action  of  which  he  will  not  re- 
pent in  his  calmer  moments. . Anger,  wine,  and 
sensuality  are  evil  counsellors.  “ Wine  and  wo- 
men/’ says  Solomon,  “ make  wise  men  fall 
off.”*  By  wine  he  means  not  only  the  liquor 
which  stupefies  the  intellect,  but  all  violent  pas- 
sion which  blinds  the  judgment.  Bear  in  mind 
also  that  you  are  held  responsible  for  sins  com- 
mitted in  such  a state. 

Another  very  salutary  remedy  is  to  turn  your 
thoughts  to  other  things  when  excited  to  anger, 
and  to  endeavor  to  banish  from. your  mind  the 
subject  which  irritates  you  ; for  if  you  take 
away  the  fuel  of  a fire  the  flame  soon  expires. 
Endeavor  also  to  love  him  with  whom  you  are 
forced  to  be  forbearing,  for  patience  which  is 
not  accompanied  with  love,  being  only  exterior, 
is  often  changed  into  hatred.  Hence,  when  the 
Apostle  tells  us  that  charity  is  patient,  he  imme- 
diately adds  that  it  is  kind;f  for  true  charity 
loves  those  whom  it  patiently  endures.  Finally, 
if  you  have  excited  the  anger  of  your  neighbor, 
quietly  withdraw  until  his  passion  has  subsid- 
ed, or  at  least  answer  him  with  mildness,  for 
“ a mild  answer  breaketh  wrath.”  J 

* Ecclus.  xix.  2.  1 1 Cor.  xiii.  4. 


X Frov.  xv.  1. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


CHAPTER  XXXVI. 

REMEDIES  AGAINST  SLOTH. 

SLOTH  is  a reluctance  to  attend  to  duty, 
and,  according  to  Cassian,  it  is  especially 
a weariness  or  distaste  for  spiritual  things. 
The  peril  to  which  this  vice  exposes  us  is 
clearly  set  forth  in  these  words  of  our  Saviour  : 
“ Every  tree  that  bringeth  not  forth  good  fruit 
shall  be  cut  down  and  shall  be  cast  into  the 
fire.”  * Against  its  evil  effects  He  again  warned 
His  disciples  when,  exhorting  them  to  diligence, 
the  opposite  of  sloth,  He  told  them  to  watch 
and  pray,  for  they  knew  not  when  the  Lord  of 
the  house  would  come.f 

Therefore,  if  this  shameful  vice  attack  you, 
banish  it  by  the  thoughts  we  are  about  to  sug- 
gest. 

First  call  to  mind  the  extraordinary  labors 
which  our  Lord  endured  for  you ; the  many 
sleepless  nights  He  spent  in  prayer  for  you  ; His 
weary  journeys  from  city  to  city,  healing  the 
sick,  comforting  the  sorrowful,  and  raising  the 
dead.  How  ardently,  how  unceasingly  He  de- 
voted Himself  to  the  work  of  our  redemption ! 
Consider  particularly  how,  at  the  time  of  His 
Passion,  He  bore  upon  His  bruised  and  bleeding 
shoulders  the  heavy  weight  of  His  cross  for  love 
of  you.  If  the  God  of  majesty  labored  thus  to 
deliver  you,  will  you  refuse  to  co-operate  in 
your  own  salvation  ? When  this  tender  Lamb 
endured  such  rude  labors  to  free  you  from  your 

* St.  Matt.  vii.  19.  t St.  Mark  xiii.  35. 


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369 


sins,  will  you  endure  nothing  to  expiate  them  ? 
Remember,  too,  the  weary  labors  of  the  Apostles, 
who  preached  the  Gospel  to  the  whole  world. 
Think  of  the  sufferings  endured  by  the  mar- 
tyrs, confessors,  virgins,  anchorites,  and  by  all 
who  are  now  reigning  with  Christ.  It  was  by 
their  teaching  and  their  toil  that  the  faith  of 
Christ  spread  through  the  known  world  and 
that  the  Church  has  been  perpetuated  to  the 
present  day. 

Turn  your  eyes  towards  nature,  and  you  will 
find  notiiing  idle.  The  heavens,  by  their  per- 
petual motion,  unceasingly  proclaim  the  glory 
of  their  Creator.  The  sun,  moon,  and  stars, 
with  all  the  brilliant  planets  which  people  al- 
most infinite  space,  daily  follow  their  courses  for 
the  benefit  of  man.  The  growth  of  plants  and 
trees  is  continual  until  they  have  attained  their 
appointed  strength  and  proportions.  Behold 
the  untiring  energy  with  which  the  ant  labors 
for  its  winter’s  food  ; with  which  the  bees  toil 
in  building  their  hives  and  storing  them  with 
honey.  These  industrious  little  creatures  will 
not  allow  an  idler  to  exist  among  them;  the 
drones  are  all  killed.  Throughout  nature  you 
find  the  same  lesson.  Will  not  man,  therefore, 
blush  for  a vice  which  the  instinct  of  irrational 
creatures  teaches  them  to  avoid  ? To  wliafc  la- 
bors do  not  men  condemn  themselves  for  the 
acquisition  of  perishable  riches,  the  preservation 
of  which,  when  they  are  obtained,  is  an  ever-in- 
creasing source  of  care  and  anxiety  ! You  are 
striving  for  the  kingdom  of  Heaven.  Will  you 
show  less  energy,  will  you  be  less  diligent,  in 


370 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


toiling  for  spiritual  treasures,  whicli  can  never 
be  taken  from  you  ? 

If  you  will  not  profit  by  time  and  strength  to 
labor  now,  a day  will  come  when  you  will  vainly 
seek  these  present  opportunities.  Sad  experi- 
ence tells  us  how  many  have  thus  been  disap- 
pointed. Life  is  short,  and  obstacles  to  good 
abound.  Do  not,  therefore,  let  the  promptings 
of  sloth  cause  you  to  lose  advantages  which  will 
never  return,  for  “the  night  cometli  when  no 
man  can  work.”  * 

The  number  and  enormity  of  your  sins  de- 
mand a proportionate  penance  and  fervor  to 
satisfy  for  them.  St.  Peter  denied  his  Master 
three  times,  but  never  ceased  to  weep  for  his 
sin,  though  he  knew  it  had  been  pardoned.  St. 
Mary  Magdalen  to  the  end  of  her  life  likewise 
bewailed  the  disorders  of  her  youth,  though  she 
heard  from  our  Saviour’s  lips  these  sweet  words  : 
“Thy  sins  are  forgiven  thee.”  Numerous  are 
the  examples  of  those  who,  returning  to  God, 
continued  during  life  to  do  penance  for  their 
sins,  though  many  of  them  had  offended  God 
far  less  grievously  than  you.  You  daily  heap 
up  your  sins  ; and  can  you  consider  any  labor 
too  severe  to  expiate  them  ? Oh  ! profit  by 
this  time  of  grace  and  mercy  to  bring  forth 
fruits  worthy  of  penance,  and  by  the  labors  of 
this  life  to  purchase  the  eternal  repose  of  the 
next.  Our  works  in  themselves  are  paltry  and 
insignificant,  but  united  to  the  merits  of  Christ 
they  acquire  infinite  value  in  the  sight  of  God. 
The  labor  endures  but  a short  time  ; the  reward 

* St.  John  ix.  4. 


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371 


will  continue  for  eternity.  We  are  told  of  a 
saint  who  was  wont  to  exclaim  at  the  striking 
of  the  clock : “0  my  God!  another  hour  has 
flown — one  of  those  hours  sent  me  in  which  to 
work  out  my  salvation,  and  for  which  I must 
render  an  account  to  Thee.”  Let  his  example 
inspire  us  with  a determination  to  profit  by  the 
time  which  is  given  us  to  lay  up  works  for  eter- 
nal life. 

If  overwhelmed  with  labors,  remember  that 
we  must  enter  Heaven  by  the  way  of  tribulation, 
and  that  he  only  will  be  crowned  who  strives 
lawfully.*  If  tempted  to  abandon  the  struggle, 
remember  that  it  is  written  : “ He  that  shall 
persevere  unto  the  end,  he  shall  be  saved.”  f 
Without  this  perseverance  our  labor  will  neither 
bear  fruit  nor  merit  reward.  Our  Saviour  would 
not  descend  from  the  cross  when  asked  by  the 
Jews,  for  the  work  of  our  redemption  was  not 
accomplished.  If,  then,  we  desire  to  follow  in 
the  footsteps  of  our  Divine  Model,  let  us  labor 
to  the  end  with  unwearied  zeal.  Is  not  the  re- 
ward which  awaits  us  eternal  ? Let  us  con- 
tinue to  do  penance  ; let  us  carry  our  cross  after 
Christ.  What  will  it  avail  us  to  have  weathered 
the  storms  and  triumphed  over  the  perils  of  the 
sea  of  life,  if  we  suffer  shipwreck  as  we  are  about 
to  enter  the  port  of  eternal  rest  ? 

Let  not  the  duration  or  difficulty  of  the  la- 
bors alarm  you.  God,  Who  calls  you  to  combat, 
will  give  you  victory.  He  sees  your  weakness  ; 
He  will  support  you  when  you  falter,  and  He 
will  reward  you  when  you  conquer.  Reanimate 

* 2 Tim.  ii.  5,  + St.  Matt.  x.  22. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


your  failing  courage,  not  by  comparing  the  diffi- 
culties of  virtue  with  the  pleasures  of  vice,  but 
by  comparing  the  labor  which  precedes  virtue 
with  the  trouble  which  surely  follows  vice. 
Place  side  by  side  the  fleeting  pleasure  of  sin 
and  the  eternal  happiness  of  virtue,  and  you 
will  see  how  preferable  is  God’s  service  to  the 
fatal  repose  to  which  sloth  allures  you. 

Yet  do  not  allow  victory  to  render  you  indo- 
lent, for  success  often  lulls  us  into  a dangerous 
confidence.  Never  abandon  your  arms ; for 
your  enemies  never  sleep,  and  life  without 
temptations  is  as  impossible  as  a sea  of  perpetu- 
al calm.  A man  is  usually  tempted  most  at 
the  beginning  of  a good  life,  for  the  devil  has 
no  need  to  tempt  those  who  have  abandoned 
themselves  to  his  control.  But  he  is  unceasing 
in  his  efforts  against  those  who  have  resolved 
to  give  themselves  to  God.  Therefore,  let  him 
never  find  you  unprepared,  but,  like  a soldier 
in  an  enemy’s  country,  be  always  ready  for  com- 
bat. If  you  are  sometimes  wounded,  beware  of 
throwing  away  your  arms  and  surrendering  in 
dismay.  Rather  imitate  those  brave  warriors 
whom  the  shame  of  defeat  spurs  to  more  he- 
roic resistance  and  greater  deeds  of  valor.  Thus 
you  will  rise  from  a fall  with  new  strength. 
You  will  see  the  enemy  to  whom  you  formerly 
submitted  now  flying  before  you.  And  if,  as 
it  may  happen  in  battle,  you  are  repeatedly 
wounded,  do  not  lose  heart,  but  remember  that 
the  valor  of  a soldier  does  not  consist  in  escaping 
wounds,  but  in  never  surrendering.  We  do  not 
call  a combatant  defeated  when  he  is  covered 


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373 


with  wounds,  but  when  he  loses  courage  and 
abandons  the  field.  And  when  you  are  wound- 
ed lose  no  time  in  applying  a remedy  ; for  one 
wound  is  more  easily  cured  than  two,  and  a 
fresh  wound  more  quickly  than  one  that  has 
been  inflamed  by  neglect.  Do  not  be  satisfied 
with  resisting  temptation,  but  gather  from  it 
greater  incentives  to  virtue,  and  with  the  as- 
sistance of  God’s  grace  you  will  reap  profit 
rather  than  barm  from  the  attacks  of  the  ene- 
my. If  you  are  tempted  to  gluttony  or  sen- 
suality, retrench  something  from  your  usual  re- 
pasts, even  though  they  in  no  way  exceed  the 
limits  of  sobriety,  and  give  yourseif  with  more 
fervor  to  fasting  and  other  practices  of  devolion. 
If  you  are  assailed  by  avarice,  increase  the 
amount  of  your  alms  and  the  number  of  your 
good  works.  If  you  feel  the  promptings  of  vain- 
glory, lose  no  opportunity  of  accepting  humilia- 
tions. Then,  perhaps,  the  devil  may  fear  to 
tempt  you,  seeing  that  you  convert  his  snares  into 
occasions  of  virtue,  and  that  he  only  affords  you 
opportunities  of  greater  good.  Above  all  things 
fly  idleness.  Even  in  your  hours  of  relaxation 
do  not  be  wholly  unoccupied.  And,  on  the 
other  hand,  do  not  be  so  absorbed  in  your  labors 
that  you  cannot  from  time  to  time  raise  your 
heart  to  God  and  treat  with  Him  in  prayer. 


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CHAPTER  XXXVII. 

OTHER  SINS  TO  BE  AVOIDED. 

Section  I. 

On  talcing  the  Name  of  God  in  Vain . 

BESIDES  the  seven  capital  sins  of  which  we 
have  been  treating  there  are  others  which 
a good  Christian  should  avoid  with  equal 
diligence. 

The  first  is  taking  God’s  name  in  vain.  This 
sin  directly  attacks  the  majesty  of  God  and  is 
more  grievous  than  any  of  which  we  could  be 
guilty  against  our  neighbor.  And  this  is  true 
not  only  when  we  swear  by  God’s  holy  name,  but 
when  we  swear  by  the  cross,  by  the  Saints,  or  by 
our  own  salvation.  Any  of  these  oaths,  if  taken 
falsely,  is  a mortal  sin.  Holy  Scripture  fre- 
quently speaks  of  the  heinousness  of  such  of- 
fences against  God.  It  is  true  that  if  one  swear 
inadvertently  to  wdiat  is  false  the  offence  is 
not  a mortal  sin,  which  requires  the  full  know- 
ledge of  the  intellect  and  the  full  assent  of  the 
will.  But  this  restriction  does  not  apply  to 
those  who  have  a habit  of  confirming  their  state- 
ments by  careless  oaths  without  making  any 
effort  to  correct  themselves.  Those  who  swear 
in  this  way,  without  weighing  the  import  of  their 
words,  are  culpable  for  this  very  negligence. 
Xor  will  it  avail  them  to  urge  that  the  inten- 
tion of  swearing  to  wdiat  is  false  was  farthest 
from  their  thoughts.  They  persevere  in  a bad 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


375 


habit  without  any  attempt  to  overcome  it,  and 
therefore  they  must  bear  its  consequences. 

A Christian,  if  he  would  not  constantly  ex- 
pose himself  to  the  guilt  of  mortal  sin,  should 
earnestly  endeavor  to  conquer  a habit  so  perni- 
cious. To  this  end  let  him  follow  the  counsel 
given  us  by  our  Saviour,  and  which  St.  James 
repeats  in  these  words  : “ Above  all  things,  my 
brethren,  swear  not,  neither  by  heaven,  nor  by 
the  earth,  nor  by  any  other  oath.  But  let  your 
speech  be,  Yea,  yea  ; No,  no  ; that  you  fall 
not  under  judgment.”  * By  these  words  we  are 
taught  the  danger  of  contracting  a habit  of  care- 
less swearing  which  may  eventually,  lead  us  to 
swear  falsely,  and  so  fall  under  the  sentence  of 
eternal  death.  Swearing  in  “ truth,  judgment, 
and  justice,”  f as  the  prophet  declares,  is  the 
only  swearing  that  is  justifiable.  That  is,  we 
should  swear  only  to  what  is  true  in  a just 
cause,  and  with  deliberation.  But  we  should 
not  be  satisfied  with  merely  shunning  the  vice 
of  taking  God’s  name  in  vain  ; we  should  excite 
a horror  of  it  in  our  children  and  servants,  and 
reprove  it  whenever  we  encounter  it.  If  at 
times  we  inadvertently  fall  into  it,  we  should 
impose  upon  ourselves  some  penance  of  a prayer, 
or  an  alms,  not  only  to  punish  ourselves,  but 
to  impress  on  our  minds  the  determination  of 
avoiding  it  in  the  future. 

All  that  has  been  said  applies  especially  to 
blasphemy  and  perjury.  Beware  also  of  that 
vice  known  as  cursing.  The  Name  at  whose 
mention  “ every  knee  in  Heaven,  on  earth,  and 

* St.  James  y.  12.  + Jer.  iv.  2. 


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The  Sinner's  Gnicle. 


in  hell  should  bow  down”  * in  reverence  should 
be  used  only  with  devotion  and  affection. 
Strive,  therefore,  to  speak  with  piety  of  the 
holy  Kame  of  God,  and  do  what  you  can  by 
your  prayers,  your  exhortations,  and  your  exam- 
ple to  banish  the  terrible  evil  of  which  we  have 
been  speaking. 


Section  II. 

On  Detraction  and  Raillery. 

The  abominable  sin  of  detraction  is  so  preva- 
lent at  the  present  day  that  there  is  scarcely  a 
society,  a family,  an  individual  not  guilty  of  it. 
There  are  some  persons  so  perversely  inclined 
that  they  cannot  bear  to  hear  any  good  of 
another,  but  are  always  alive  to  their  neighbor’s 
faults,  always  ready  to  tear  his  character  to 
pieces. 

To  excite  in  your  heart  a salutary  hatred  of 
this  detestable  and  dangerous  vice  consider  the 
three  great  evils  which  it  involves.  First,  it 
always  borders  upon  mortal  sin,  even  when  it  is 
not  actually  such.  From  criticisms  and  cen- 
sures, with  which  people  generally  begin,  we 
easily  fall  into  detraction  or  calumny.  Detrac- 
tion is  committed  when  we  tell  another’s  real 
faults ; calumny,  when  the  fault  we  mention 
is  not  real,  but  the  invention  of  our  malicious, 
lies.  Thus,  though  we  may  not  be  guilty  of 
calumny,  how  often  does  it  happen  that  a per- 
son, from  criticising  the  failings  of  others  which 
are  generally  known,  is  gradually  led  to  men- 
* Phil.  ii.  10. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


377 


tion  some  hidden  and  grave  sin  which  robs  him 
of  his  reputation  and  his  honor  ! That  the  fault 
revealed  is  true  in  no  manner  saves  the  detrac- 
tor from  the  guilt  of  mortal  sin.  The  descent 
to  such  a crime  is  easy  ; for  when  the  tongue  of 
the  detractor  is  started,  and  a desire  to  embel- 
lish his  story  seizes  him,  it  is  as  difficult  to  re- 
strain him  as  to  extinguish  a fire  fanned  by  a 
high  wind,  or  to  stop  a horse  when  he  has  taken 
the  bit  in  his  teeth  and  is  dashing  madly  on. 
It  is  the  fear  of  this  evil  which  led  the  author 
of  Eeclesiasticus  to  cry  out:  “ Who  will  set  a 
guard  before  my  mouth  and  a sure  seal  upon 
my  lips,  that  I fall  not  by  them,  and  that  my 
tongue  destroy  me  not  ? ” * He  keenly  real- 
ized the  difficulties  in  the  way,  knowing,  as  Solo- 
mon says,  that  “it  is  the  part  of  man  to  pre- 
pare the  soul,  and  of  the  Lord  to  govern  the 
tongue.  ” f 

The  second  evil  of  this  vice  consists  in  the 
threefold  injury  which  it  inflicts — namely,  on 
the  one  who  speaks,  on  him  who  listens  with 
approval,  and  on  the  victim  who  is  assailed 
in  his  absence. 

In  addition  to  this  the  person  who  compla- 
cently listens  to  detraction  is  frequently  a tale- 
bearer. To  ingratiate  himself  with  the  victims 
of  the  detraction  he  carries  to  them  all  that  has 
been  said f against  them,  and  thus  excites  enmi- 
ties which  are  seldom  extinguished,  and  which 
sometimes  end  even  in  bloodshed.  “The 
whisperer  and  the  double-tongued  is  ac- 
cursed/5 we  are  told  in  the  Sacred  Scrip- 

* Ecclus.  xxii.  33.  + Prov.  xvi.  1. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


tures,  “ for  he  hath  troubled  many  that  were 
at  peace.55* 

To  teach  us  the  baneful  effects  of  this  insidi- 
ous vice  the  Holy  Ghost  compares  it  at  one 
time  to  the  swift  blow  of  a “ sharp  razor5’; f at 
another  time  to  the  bite  of  the  poisonous  asp,£ 
which  disappears,  but  leaves  its  venom  in  the 
wound.  With  reason,  then,  did  the  author  of 
Ecclesiasticus  say  : “ The  stroke  of  a whip 
maketh  a blue  mark,  but  the  stroke  of  the 
tongue  will  break  the  bones.55  § 

The  third  evil  of  this  vice  is  the  horror  it  in- 
spires and  the  infamy  which  it  brings  upon  us. 
Men  fly  from  a detractor  as  naturally  as  they 
would  from  a venomous  serpent.  “ A man  full 
of  tongue,55  says  Holy  Scripture,  “is  terrible  in 
his  city,  and  he  that  is  rash  in  his  word  shall 
be  hateful.’5  \\  Are  not  these  evils  sufficient  to 
make  you  abhor  a vice  so  injurious  and  so  un- 
profitable ? Why  will  you  make  yourself  odious 
in  the  sight  of  God  and  men  for  a sin  from 
which  you  can  reap  no  advantage  ? Remember, 
moreover,  that  in  no  other  vice  do  we  so  quickly 
form  a habit,  for  every  time  we  speak  with  others 
we  expose  ourselves  to  the  danger  of  relapsing. 

Henceforward  consider  your  neighbor’s  cha- 
racter as  a forbidden  tree  which  you  cannot 
touch.  Be  no  less  slow  in  praising  yourself 
than  in  censuring  others,  for  the  first  indicates 
vanity  and  the  second  a want  of  charity.  Speak 
of  the  virtues  of  your  neighbor,  but  be  silent  as 
to  Ins  faults.  Let  nothing  that  you  say  lead 

*Ecclns.  xxviii.  15.  t Ps.  li.  2.  t Ps.  xiii.  3. 

§ Ecclus.  xxviii.  21.  11  Ecclus.  ix.  25. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


379 


others  to  think  that  he  is  anglit  blit  a man  of 
virtue  and  honor.  You  will  thus  avoid  innu- 
merable sins  and  much  remorse  of  conscience  ; 
you  will  be  pleasing  to  God  and  men  ; and  you 
will  be  respected  by  all  as  you  respect  others. 
Put  a bridle  upon  your  tongue  and  learn  to 
withhold  an  angry  word  when  your  heart  is 
moved.  Believe  me,  there  is  no  control  more 
difficult  and  at  the  same  time  more  noble  and 
advantageous  than  that  which  a wise  man  ex- 
ercises over  his  tongue.  Do  not  think  yourself 
guiltless  because  you  artfully  mingle  your  ma- 
licious insinuations  with  words  of  praise.  In 
this  respect  the  detractor  is  like  the  surgeon, 
wdio  soothingly  passes  his  hand  over  the  vein 
before  piercing  it  with  the  lancet : “His  words 
are  smoother  than  oil,  and  the  same  are  darts.”  * 

To  refrain  from  speaking  ill  of  others  is  al- 
ways a virtue,  but  it  is  a still  greater  virtue  to 
refrain  from  reviling  those  who  have  injured 
us;  for  the  greater  the  injured  feeling  which 
prompts  us  to  speak,  the  greater  is  our  gene- 
rosity in  resisting  it. 

Nor  is  it  sufficient  not  to  indulge  in  detrac- 
tion ; you  must  also  endeavor  to  avoid  hearing 
it.  Be  faithful  to  the  counsel  of  the  Holy 
Spirit,  who  tells  you  to  “hedge  in  your  ears 
with  thorns,  and  hear  not  a wicked  tongue.”  f 
Observe  that  you  are  not  told  to  hedge  in  your 
ears  with  cotton,  but  with  thorns,  that  you  may 
not  only  repel  the  words  of  the  detractor,  but 
that  you  may  pierce  him,  and,  by  showing  him 
a grave  countenance,  teach  him  how  displeasing 

* Ps.  liv,  22 . t Ecclue.  xxviii.  28. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


to  you  is  liis  conduct.  “ The  north  wind  driv- 
eth  away  rain,”  says  Solomon,  “as  doth  a sad 
countenance  a backbiting  tongue.”*  Impose 
silence,  therefore,  upon  the  detractor,  if  he  be 
your  inferior  or  one  whom  you  can  reprove 
without  offence.  If  you  cannot  do  this,  pru- 
dently endeavor  to  turn  the  conversation,  or 
show  by  the  severity  of  your  countenance  that 
his  conversation  is  not  pleasing  to  you.  Beware 
of  hearing  the  detractor  with  smiling  attention, 
for  you  thus  encourage  him,  and  consequently 
share  in  his  guilt.  It  is  a grievous  offence  to 
set  fire  to  a house,  but  it  is  scarcely  less  culpable 
to  stand  idly  by  witnessing  its  destruction  in- 
stead of  aiding  in  extinguishing  the  flames. 

But  of  all  detractions,  that  which  is  directed 
against  virtuous  persons  is  the  most  sinful.  It 
not  only  injures  the  person  assailed,  but  tends 
to  discourage  others  who  are  beginners  in  virtue, 
while  it  confirms  the  cowardice  of  those  who 
will  not  risk  our  censures  by  striving  to  do 
good.  For  what  would  be  no  scandal  or  stum- 
bling-block to  the  strong  may  prove  an  insur- 
mountable obstacle  to  the  weak.  If  you  would 
appreciate  the  evil  of  this  kind  of  scandal  reflect 
upon  these  words  of  our  Saviour:  “He  that 
shall  scandalize  one  of  these  little  ones  that  be- 
lieve in  Me,  it  were  better  for  him  that  a mill- 
stone should  be  hanged  about  his  neck,  and 
that  he  should  be  drowned  in  the  depth  of  the 
sea.”f  Avoid,  therefore,  as  you  would  a sacri- 
lege, all  scandalqus  reflections  upon  persons  con- 
secrated to  God.  If  their  conduct  furnish  mat- 


* Prov.  xxv.  23. 


+ St.  Matt,  xviii.  6. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


381 


ter  for  censure,  nevertheless  continue  to  respect 
the  sacred  character  with  which  they  are  in- 
vested, for  it  is  of  them  that  our  Saviour  has 
said  : “ He  that  toucheth  you  touehetli  the  ap- 
ple of  My  eye.”  * 

All  that  we  have  said  of  detraction  applies 
with  still  more  reason  to  those  who  make  others 
the  object  of  derision  and  raillery  ; for  this  vice, 
besides  having  all  the  evil  consequences  of  the 
first  two,  presupposes  pride,  presumption,  and 
contempt  for  one’s  neighbor.  In  the  Old  Law 
God  especially  warns  us  against  it : “ Thou 
shalt  not  be  a detractor,  nor  a whisperer  among 
the  people.”  f We  have  no  need  to  insist  upon 
the  enormity  of  this  vice;  what  we  have  said 
on  the  subject  of  detraction  is  sufficient. 

Section  III. 

On  Rash  Judgments. 

Those  who  are  addicted  to  detraction  and  rail- 
lery do  not  confine  themselves  to  what  they 
know,  but  indulge  in  suppositions  and  rash 
judgments.  When  they  no  longer  find  matter 
to  censure  they  invent  evil  intentions,  misinter- 
pret good  actions,  forgetting  that  our  Saviour 
has  said  : “ Judge  not,  that  you  may  not  be 
judged  ; for  with  what  judgment  you  judge  you 
shall  be  judged.”  J Here  also  the  offence  may 
frequently  be  a mortal  sin,  particularly  when 
we  venture  to  judge  in  a matter  of  grave  impor- 
tance upon  very  slight  evidence.  If  it  be  only 
a suspicion,  not  a real  judgment,  it  may  be  only 

* Zach.  ii.  8.  t Lev.  xix.  16.  $ St.  Matt.  vii.  1,  2. 


382 


The  Sinner’s  Guide < 


a venial  sin,  because  the  act  has  not  been  com- 
pleted. Even  by  suspicion,  however,  a mortal 
sin  can  be  committed  by  suspecting  virtuous 
persons  of  enormous  crimes. 

Section  IV. 

On  the  Commandments  of  the  Church . 

Besides  these  sins  against  the  Commandments 
of  God  there  are  those  against  the  command- 
ments of  the  Church,  which  also  impose  upon 
us  a grave  obligation.  Such  are  the  precepts  to 
hear  Mass  on  Sundays  and  holydays  of  obliga- 
tion ; to  confess  our  sins  at  least  once  a year, 
and  to  receive  the  Holy  Eucharist  at  Easter  or 
thereabouts  ; to  pay  tithes  to  our  pastor,  and  to 
observe  the  days  of  fasting  and  abstinence  pre- 
scribed by  the  Church.  The  precept  of  fasting 
is  binding  from  the  age  of  twenty- one  and  up- 
wards ; that  of  abstinence  obliges  all  who  have 
attained  the  age  of  reason.  The  sick,  the  con- 
valescent, nursing  women,  women  in  pregnan- 
cy, those  whose  labors  are  severe,  and  those  who 
are  too  poor  to  afford  one  full  meal  a day,  are 
exempt  from  the  law  of  fasting.  There  may  be 
other  lawful  reasons  for  dispensation,  for  which 
the  faithful  ought  to  apply  to  their  pastor  or 
confessor,  and  not  take  it  upon  themselves  to 
set  aside  the  law  of  the  Church.  The  difference 
between  abstinence  and  fasting  should  be  re- 
membered. By  fasting  we  mean  eating  only 
one  full  meal  in  the  day,  with  a slight  collation 
in  the  evening.  By  abstinence  we  mean  giving 
up  the  use  of  flesh-meat.  It  should  be  borne 


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383 


in  mind,  therefore,  on  Ember  days  and  at  other 
times  of  fast,  that  the  law  is  not  fulfilled  by 
simply  abstaining  from  meat.  Except  yon  are 
excused  by  some  of  the  reasons  given  above  or 
by  dispensation,  you  must  observe  the  fast  by 
eating  only  one  full  meal,  with  the  collation  in 
the  evening,  and  a warm  drink,  with  a cracker 
or  small  piece  of  bread,  in  the  morning.  In 
regard  to  hearing  Mass,  we  must  endeavor  to 
be  present  at  the  Holy  Sacrifice  not  only  in 
body  but  in  mind,  with  silence  and  recollection, 
having  our  thoughts  fixed  upon  the  mystery 
of  the  altar,  or  upon  some  other  pious  subject. 
The  recital  of  devout  prayers,  especially  the  Ro- 
sary, is  an  excellent  means  of  keeping  ourselves 
united  with  God.  If  w~e  are  at  the  head  of  a 
house  we  must  be  careful  to  see  that  all  under 
our  charge  hear  Mass,  not  only  on  Sundays,  but 
also  on  holydays.  Too  much  laxity  regarding 
holydays  is  apt  to  prevail  among  those  who  earn 
their  bread  by  the  sweat  of  their  brow.  They 
should  remember  that  the  obligation  to  hear 
Mass  on  a holyday  is  the  same  as  the  obligation 
to  hear  it  on  Sunday.  Consequently  they  must 
make  serious  and  sincere  efforts  to  comply  with 
this  duty.  To  attend  an  early  Mass  may  involve 
the  loss  of  a little  sleep,  but  they  should  remem- 
ber that  these  holydays  occur  but  seldom,  and 
that  they  must  do  something  to  atone  for  their 
sins  and  to  merit  the  kingdom  of  Heaven.  Pa- 
rents and  employers  will  have  a severe  account 
to  render  to  God  if  they  cause  or  permit  those 
confided  to  their  care  to  neglect  this  sacred 
duty.  When  there  is  a just  reason,  such  as  the 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


care  of  the  sick  or  any  other  pressing  necessity 
which  prevents  onr  hearing  Mass,  we  are  re- 
leased from  the  obligation. 


CHAPTER  XXXVIII. 

VENIAL  SINS. 

THOUGH  the  sins  of  which  we  have  been 
treating  are  those  which  we  should  avoid 
with  most  care,  yet  do  not  think  that  you 
are  dispensed  from  vigilance  in  regard  to 
venial  sins.  I conjure  you  not  to  be  one  of 
those  ungenerous  Christians  who  make  no  scru- 
ple of  committing  a sin  because  it  is  venial. 
Remember  these  w^ords  of  Holy  Scripture  : “ He 
that  despiseth  small  things  shall  fall  by  little 
and  little.”*  “ Do  not  despise  venial  sins  be- 
cause they  appear  trifling,”  says  St.  Augustine, 
“ but  fear  them  because  they  are  numerous. 
Small  animals  in  large  numbers  can  kill  a man. 
Grains  of  sand  are  very  small,  yet,  if  accumu- 
lated, they  can  sink  a ship.  Drops  of  water  are 
very  small,  yet  how  often  they  become  a mighty 
river,  a raging  torrent,  sweeping  everything 
before  them  ! ” The  holy  Doctor  continues  to 
observe  that  though  no  amount  of  venial  sins 
can  constitute  a mortal  sin,  yet  these  slighter 
failings  predispose  us  to  greater  faults,  which 
often  become  mortal.  St.  Gregory  observes 
with  equal  truth  that  slight  faults  are.  some- 

* Ecclus.  xix.  1. 


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385 


times  more  dangerous  than  greater  ones,  for  the 
latter,  when  we  behold  their  hideousness,  awaken 
remorse  and  resolutions  of  amendment ; but  the 
former  make  less  impression  on  us,  and  thus, 
by  easily  relapsing  into  them,  we  soon  contract 
a strong  habit. 

Finally,  venial  sin,  however  slight,  is  always 
prejudicial  to  the  soul.  It  weakens  our  devo- 
tion, troubles  the  peace  of  our  conscience,  di- 
minishes the  fervor  of  charity,  exhausts  the 
strength  of  our  spiritual  life,  and  obstructs  the 
work  of  the  Holy  Ghost  in  our  souls.  Then  I 
pray  you  do  all  in  your  powTer  to  avoid  these 
sins,  for  there  is  no  enemy  too  weak  to  harm  us 
if  we  make  no  resistance.  Slight  anger,  glut- 
tony, vanity,  idle  words  and  thoughts,  immode- 
rate laughter,  loss  of  time,  too  much  sleeping, 
trivial  lies  or  flatteries — such  are  the  sins  against 
which  I would  particularly  warn  you.  Great 
vigilance  is  required  against  offences  of  this 
kind,  for  occasions  of  venial  sin  abound. 


CHAPTER  XXXIX. 

SHORTER  REMEDIES  AGAINST  SIN'S,  PARTICU- 
LARLY THE  SEVEN  DEADLY  SINS. 

milE  means  we  have  already  suggested  will 
suffice  to  strengthen  you  in  virtue  and 
JL  arm  you  against  vice.  The  following 
short  considerations,  however,  you  can 
use  with  advantage  at  the  moment  of  tempta- 


386 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


tion.  They  were  found  among  the  writings  of 
a man  of  great  sanctity,  who  had  himself  expe- 
rienced their  efficacy. 

In  temptations  to  pride  he  would  say  : When 
I reflect  upon  the  depth  of  humility  to  which 
the  Son  of  God,  the  second  Person  of  the 
Blessed  Trinity,  descended  for  love  of  me,  I feel 
that,  however  profound  a contempt  men  may 
have  for  me,  I yet  deserve  to  he  still  more 
humbled  and  despised. 

When  attacked  by  covetousness  he  would 
think  : Having  once  understood  that  nothing 
but  God  can  satisfy  the  heart,  I am  convinced 
of  the  folly  of  seeking  anything  but  this  su- 
preme Good. 

In  assaults  against  purity  he  would  reflect  : 
To  what  a dignity  has  my  body  been  raised  by 
the  reception  of  the  Holy  Eucharist ! I trem- 
ble, therefore,  at  the  sacrilege  I would  commit 
by  profaning  with  carnal  pleasures  this  temple 
in  which  God  has  chosen  to  dwell. 

Against  anger  he  tvould  defend  himself  by 
saying  : Ko  injury  should  be  capable  of  moving 
me  to  anger  when  I reflect  upon  the  outrages  I 
have  offered  my  God. 

When  assailed  by  temptations  to  hatred  he 
would  answer  the  enemy  : Knowing  the  mercy 
with  which  God  has  received  me  and  pardoned 
my  sins,  I cannot  refuse  to  forgive  my  greatest 
enemy. 

When  attacked  by  gluttony  he  would  say  : I 
call  to  mind  the  vinegar  and  gall  which  were 
offered  to  our  Saviour  on  the  Cross,  and  shall 
I not  blush  if  I do  not  deny  my  appetite 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


387 


or  endure  something  for  the  expiation  of  my 
sins  ? 

In  temptations  to  sloth  he  would  arouse  him- 
self by  the  thought  : Eternal  happiness  can  be 
purchased  by  a few  years  of  labor  here  below  ; 
shall  I,  then,  shrink  from  any  toil  for  so  great  a 
reward  ? 

In  a work  which  some  attribute  to  St.  Au- 
gustine and  others  to  St.  Leo  we  find  similar 
remedies  which  are  equally  efficacious.  The  au- 
thor shows  us  on  one  side  the  allurements  with 
which  each  vice  solicits  us,  and  on  the  other 
the  arguments  with  which  we  must  resist  it. 

Pride  is  the  first  to  address  us,  in  the  follow- 
ing deceitful  language : You  certainly  excel 
others  in  learning,  eloquence,  wealth,  rank,  and 
many  other  things.  Being  so  superior,  there- 
fore, you  have  every  reason  to  look  down  upon 
them.  Humility  answers  : Kemember  that  you 
are  but  dust  and  ashes,  destined,  as  rottenness 
and  corruption,  to  become  the  food  of  worms  ; 
and  were  you  all  that  you  imagine,  the  greater 
your  dignity  the  greater  should  be  your  humil- 
ity if  you  would  escape  a miserable  fall.  Does 
your  power  equal  that  of  the  Angels  who  fell  ? 
Do  you  shine  upon  earth  as  Lucifer  shone  in 
Heaven  ? If  pride  thrust  him  from  such  a 
height  of  glory  to  such  an  abyss  of  misery,  how 
can  you,  a slave  to  the  same  pride,  expect  to 
rise  from  your  wretchedness  to  the  honor  from 
which  he  fell  ? 

. Vain-glory  speaks  thus  : Yes,  do  all  the  good 
you  can,  but  publish  it,  so  that  the  world  may 
regard  you  as  a man  of  great  virtue  and  treat 


388 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


you  with  consideration  and  respect.  Fear  of 
God  answers  : It  is  great  folly  to  devote  to  the 
acquisition  of  temporal  renown  that  which  can 
obtain  for  you  eternal  glory.  Endeavor  to  hide 
your  good  actions,  and  if  they  appear  in  spite 
of  your  efforts  to  conceal  them  it  will  not  be 
accounted  vanity  in  you  when  you  have  no  de- 
sire to  display  them. 

Hypocrisy  counsels  : Assume  the  good  quali- 
ties you  do  not  possess,  and  make  men  think 
you  better  than  you  are,  that  you  may  not  ex- 
cite their  contempt.  Sincerity  answers  : It  is 
better  to  be  virtuous  than  to  try  to  appear  so. 
By  attempting  to  deceive  others  you  will  only 
cause  your  own  ruin. 

Kebellion  and  Disobedience  argue : Why 
should  you  be  subject  to  those  who  are  your 
inferiors  ? It  is  your  place  to  command  and 
theirs  to  obey,  for  they  are  inferior  to  you  in 
wisdom  and  virtue.  It  suffices  to  obey  the 
laws  of  God  ; you  have  no  need  to  be  bound  by 
the  commands  of  man.  Submission  and  Obe- 
dience answer  : The  law  of  God  obliges  you  to 
submit  to  the  authority  of  man.  For  has  not 
God  said  : He  that  heareth  you  lieareth  Me, 
and  he  that  despiseth  you  despiseth  Me  ” ? * 
'Nor  can  you  urge  that  this  injunction  is  only 
to  be  observed  when  he  who  commands  is  wise 
and  virtuous,  for  the  Apostle  says  : “ There  is 
no  power  but  from  God  ; and  those  that  are,  are 
ordained  of  God.”  f Therefore,  your  duty  is  not 
to  criticise  those  in  authority,  but  to  obey  them. 

Envy  whispers  : In  what  are  you  inferior  to 

* St.  Luke  x.  16.  t Rom.  xiii.  1. 


The  Sinners  Guide . 


389 


such  men  whom  others  extol  ? Why  should  you 
not  enjoy  the  same  and  even  greater  considera- 
tion, for  you  excel  them  in  many  things  ? It  is 
unjust  that  they  should  he  ranked  as  your 
equals  ; with  much  le^s  reason  should  they  be 
placed  above  you.  Brotherly  Love  answers  : If 
your  virtue  exceeds  that  of  others  it  is  safer  in 
obscurity,  for  the  greater  the  elevation  to  which 
a man  is  raised,  the  greater  is  the  danger  of  his 
fall.  If  the  possessions  of  others  equal  or  ex- 
ceed yours,  in  what  does  it  prejudice  you  ? lie- 
member  that  by  envying  others  you  only  liken 
yourself  to  him  of  whom  it  is  written  : “ By  the 
envy  of  the  devil  death  came  into  the  world  ; 
and  they  follow  him  that  are  of  his  side.”  * 
Hatred  says  : God  cannot  oblige  you  to  love 
one  who  contradicts  and  opposes  you,  who  con- 
tinually speaks  ill  of  you,  ridicules  you,  re- 
proaches you  with  your  past  failings,  and  thwarts 
you  in  everything,  for  he  would  not  thus  perse- 
cute you  if  he  did  not  hate  you.  True  Charity 
answers  : We  must  not,  because  of  these  de- 
plorable faults,  cease  to  love  the  image  of  God 
in  our  fellow-creatures.  Did  not  Jesus  Christ 
love  His  enemies  who  nailed  Him  to  the  Cross  ? 
And  did  not  this  Divine  Master  before  leaving 
the  world  exhort  us  to  imitate  His  example  ? 
Drive,  then,  from  your  heart  the  bitterness  of 
hatred  and  yield  to  the  sweetness  of  fraternal 
charity.  Independently  of  your  eternal  interests, 
which  impose  this  duty  upon  you,  there  is 
nothing  sweeter  than  love,  and  nothing  more 
bitter  than  hatred,  which  preys  like  a cancer  on 

* Wisdom  ii.  24,  25. 


390 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


the  heart  of  its  victim,  where  it  was  first  en- 
gendered. 

Detraction  exclaims  : It  is  impossible  to  be 
silent  any  longer  about  the  faults  of  such  a 
one.  Is  not  concealment  condoning  them 
and  rendering  ourselves  partakers  of  them  ? 
Charity,  which  appreciates  the  duty  of  fraternal 
correction,  answers  : You  must  neither  publish 
your  neighbor’s  sins  nor  be  accessory  to  them  ; 
but  reprove  him  with  mildness  and  patiently 
bear  with  him.  Moreover,  it  is  the  part  of 
wisdom  sometimes  to  ignore  the  faults  of  an- 
other until  a favorable  opportunity  occurs  for 
warning  him  against  them. 

Anger  cries  out : How  can  you  bear  such 
affronts  ? It  does  not  become  you  to  submit 
calmly  to  such  injuries.  If  you  do  not  resent 
them  you  will  be  insulted  with  impunity.  Pa- 
tience answers  : Reflect  upon  the  ignominy  our 
Saviour  endured  for  you,  and  there  is  no  wrong 
which  you  will  not  bear  with  meekness.  Re- 
member also  these  words  of  St.  Peter  : “ Christ 
suffered  for  us,  leaving  you  an  example  that  you 
should  follow  His  steps.  ” Who,  when  He  was 
reviled,  did  not  revile  ; when  He  suffered,  He 
threatened  not.”  * 

Consider  also  how  trifling  are  our  sufferings 
compared  to  the  torments  He  endured  for  us. 
He  was  buffeted,  scourged,  spat  upon,  crowned 
with  thorns,  covered  with  ignominy,  and  nailed 
to  a cross.  And,  though  all  these  were  borne 
for  us,  yet  how  quickly  we  are  enraged  by  a 
trifling  word  or  a slight  incivility  ! 

* 1 St.  Peter  ii.  31,  23. 


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391 


Hardness-of-hcart  urges  : It  profits  nothing 
to  speak  kindly  to  stupid,  ignorant  men  who 
will  probably  presume  upon  your  kindness  and 
become  insolent.  Meekness  answers  : Do  not 
hearken  to  such  thoughts,  but  heed  the  words 
of  the  Apostle  : “ The  servant  of  the  Lord 
must  not  wrangle,  but  be  mild  towards  all 
men.”  * Inferiors  should  endeavor  with  no 
less  care  to  bear  themselves  with  meekness  and 
respect  towards  their  superiors,  and  beware  of 
presuming,  as  many  do,  upon  the  kindness  and 
gentleness  of  those  in  authority. 

Presumption  and  Imprudence  argue  thus  : 
God  witnesses  your  actions  ; what  do  you  care, 
then,  how  they  affect  others  ? Prudence  an- 
swers : You  owe  a duty  of  edification  to  your 
neighbor,  and  your  actions  should  furnish  him 
no  reason  to  suspect  evil.  Beware,  therefore, 
of  scandalizing  another,  even  in  acts  that  are 
good  but  misunderstood.  If  the  reproofs  of  your 
neighbor  are  well  founded,  humbly  acknowledge 
your  fault ; if  you  are  guiltless,  avow  your  in- 
nocence with  no  less  sincere  humility. 

Sloth  and  Indolence  suggest  : If  you  apply 
yourself  to  study,  prayer,  meditation,  and 
tears  you  will  injure  your  e}7es.  If  you  pro- 
long your  vigils  and  fasts  you  will  weaken  your 
body  and  unfit  yourself  for  spiritual  exercises. 
Industry  and  Zeal  answer  : Who  has  assured 
you  mauy  years  for  the  performance  of  these 
good  works  ? Are  you  sure  of  to-morrow,  or 
even  of  the  present  moment  ? Have  you  forgot- 
ten these  words  of  our  Saviour  : “ Watch  ye, 

* 2 Tim.  ii.  24. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


therefore,  because  yon  know  not  the  day  nor 
the  hour”  ?*  Arise,  then,  and  cast  aside  this 
indolence  which  has  seized  yon,  for  the  kingdom 
of  Heaven,  which  suffers  violence,  is  not  for  the 
slothful,  but  for  the  violent  who  will  bear  it 
avvay.f 

Covetousness  insinuates  : Do  not  give  any 
of  your  possessions  to  strangers,  but  keep  them 
for  yourself  and  your  own.  Mercy  answers  : 
Remember  the  lesson  of  the  covetous  rich  man  of 
the  Gospel  who  was  clothed  in  purple  and  fine 
linen ; he  was  not  condemned  for  taking  what 
did  not  belong  to  him,  but  for  not  giving  from 
his  abundance.  J From  the  depth  of  hell  he 
begged  for  a drop  of  water  to  quench  his  thirst ; 
but  it  was  denied  him,  because  he  had  refused 
to  the  poor  man  at  his  gate  even  the  crumbs 
which  fell  from  his  table. 

Gluttony  urges  : God  created  all, these  things 
for  us,  and  he  who  refuses  them  despises  the 
benefits  of  God.  Temperance  answers  : True, 
God  created  these  things  for  our  maintenance, 
but  He  willed  that  we  should  use  them  with 
moderation,  for  He  has  also  imposed  upon  us 
the  duty  of  sobriety  and  temperance.  It  was 
principally  a disregard  of  these  virtues  which 
brought  destruction  upon  the  city  of  Sodom. § 
Therefore,  a man,  even  when  enjoying  good 
health,  should  consult  necessity  rather  than 
pleasure  in  the  choice  of  his  food.  He  has  per- 
fectly triumphed  over  this  vice  who  not  only 
limits  the  quantity  of  his  food,  but  who  denies 


* St.  Matt.  xxv.  13. 
X St.  Luke  xvi.  22. 


t St.  Matt.  xi.  12. 
§ Ezech  xvi.  49. 


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393 


himself  delicacies  except  when  necessity,  char- 
ity, or  politeness  prompts  him  to  accept  them. 

Loquacity  tells  us  : It  is  nosm  to  talk  much  if 
you  say  no  evil,  as,  on  the  contrary,  it  does  not 
free  you  from  fault  to  allege  that  your  words  are 
few  if  what  you  have  said  is  bad.  Discreet  Re- 
serve answers  ; That  is  true  ; but  great  talkers 
seldom  fail  to  offend  with  the  tongue.  Hence 
the  Wise  Man  says:  “ In  the  multitude  of 
words  there  shall  not  want  sm.?;  * And  if  you 
are  so  fortunate  as  to  avoid  injurious  words 
against  your  neighbor,  you  will  hardly  avoid 
idle  words,  for  which,  however,  you  must  render 
an  account  on  the  last  day.  Be  reserved  and 
moderate,  therefore,  in  your  speech,  that  a mul- 
tiplicity of  words  may  not  entangle  you  in  sin. 

Impurity  counsels  thus  : Profit  now  by  the 
pleasures  life  offers  you,  for  you  know  not  what 
may  happen  to-morrow  ; it  is  unreasonable  to 
restrict  the  pleasures  of  youth,  which  passes 
like  a dream.  If  God  had  not  willed  us  the  en- 
joyment of  these  pleasures  He  never  would  have 
created  us  as  we  are.  Chastity  answers  : Be 
not  deceived  by  such  illusions.  Consider  what 
is  prepared  for  you.  If  you  live  pure  lives  on 
earth  you  will  be  rewarded  hereafter  with  in- 
effable and  eternal  joys.  But  if  you  abandon 
yourself  to  your  impure  desires  you  will  be 
punished  by  torments  equally  unspeakable  and 
eternal.  The  more  sensible  you  are  of  the 
fleeting  nature  of  these  pleasures,  the  more 
earnestly  you  should  endeavor  to  live  chastely  ; 
for  wretched  indeed  is  that  hour  of  gratification 

* Prov.  x.  19. 


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which  is  purchased  at  the  expense  of  endless 
suffering. 

All  that  we  have  said  in  the  preceding  pages 
will  furnish  you  with  spiritual  arms  to  triumph 
oyer  your  enemies.  If  you  follow  these  coun- 
sels you  will  take  the  first  step  in  virtue  ; that 
is,  you  will  extirpate  your  vices.  Thus  will 
you  defend  your  soul,  the  citadel  which  God 
has  confided  to  your  care,  and  in  which  He 
wills  to  take  up  His  abode.  If  you  defend  it 
resolutely  and  faithfully  you  will  enjoy  the 
presence  of  this  heavenly  Guest,  for  the  Apostle 
tells  us  that  “God  is  charity,  and  that  he  that 
abideth  in  charity  abideth  in  God,  and  God  in 
him.”*  Now,  he  abides  in  charity  who  does 
nothing  to  destroy  this  virtue,  which  perishes 
only  by  mortal  sin,  against  which  the  preceding 
considerations  may  be  applied  as  a preventive  or 
remedy. 


CHAPTER  XL. 

THREE  KINDS  OF  VIRTUES  IN  WHICH  THE  FUL- 
NESS OF  JUSTICE  CONSISTS  ; AND,  FIRST, 
MAN?S  DUTY  TO  HIMSELF. 

Section  I. 

Our  Threefold  Obligation  to  Virtue . 

HAVING  spoken  at  length  of  the  sins  which 
profane  and  degrade  the  soul,  let  us  now 
turn  to  the  virtues  which  elevate  and 
adorn  it  with  the  spiritual  treasures  of 
justice.  It  belongs  to  justice  to  render  to 

* 1 St.  John  iv.  16. 


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395 


every  one  his  due:  to  God,  to  our  ^neighbor, 
and  to  ourselves.  If  we  faithfully  acquit  our- 
selves of  these  duties  to  God,  to  our  neighbor, 
and  to  ourselves,  we  fulfil  the  obligations  of 
justice  and  thus  become  truly  virtuous. 

To  accomplish  this  great  work  let  your  heart 
be  that  of  a son  towards  God,  that  of  a brother 
towards  your  neighbor,  and  that  of  a judge 
towards  yourself.  In  this,  the  prophet  tells  us, 
the  virtue  of  man  consists:  “1  will  show  thee, 
0 man  ! what  is  good  and  what  the  Lord  re- 
quire th  of  thee  : Verily,  to  do  judgment,  and  to 
love  mercy,  and  to  walk  solicitous  with  thy 
God.”  * The  duty  of  judgment  is  what  man 
owes  to  himself ; the  duty  of  mercy  what  he 
owes  to  his  neighbor ; and  to  walk  carefully 
before  God  is  the  duty  he  owes  to  his  Creator. 

Section  II. 

The  Reformation  of  the  Body. 

Charity,  it  is  truly  said,  begins  at  home.  Let 
us,  therefore,  begin  with  the  first  obligation 
mentioned  by  the  prophet — the  duty  of  judg- 
ment which  man  must  exercise  towards  him- 
self. Every  just  judge  must  enforce  order  and 
discipline  in  the  district  over  which  he  exer- 
cises jurisdiction.  Now,  the  kingdom  over 
which  man  rules  is  divided  into  two  distinct 
parts  : the  body  with  all  its  organs  and  senses, 
and  the  soul  with  all  its  affections  and  powers. 
Over  all  these  he  must  establish  the  empire  of 
virtue,  if  he  would  faithfully  perform  his  duty 
to  himself. 


* Micheas  vi.  8. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


To  reform  the  body  and  bring  it  under  the 
dominion  of  virtue  the  first  thing  to  be  ac- 
quired is  a modest  and  decorous  bearing. 
“Let  there  be  nothing  in  your  carriage,  your 
deportment,  or  your  dress/’  says  St.  Augustine, 
“ capable  of  scandalizing  your  neighbor,  but  let 
everything  about  you  be  conformable  to  the 
purity  and  sanctity  of  your  profession.”  Hence 
a servant  of  God  should  bear  himself  with 
gravity,  humility,  and  sweetness,  that  all  who 
approach  him  may  profit  by  his  example  and 
be  edified  by  his  virtues.  The  great  Apostle 
would  have  us,  like  fragrant  plants,  giving  forth 
the  sweet  perfume  of  piety  and  filling  all  about 
us  with  the  odor  of  Jesus  Christ.*  Such, 
indeed,  should  be  the  effect  of  the  words,  the 
actions,  and  the  bearing  of  those  who  serve 
God,  so  that  none  who  draw  near  to  them  can 
resist  the  sweet  attraction  of  sanctity.  This  is 
one  of  the  principal  fruits  of  a modest  and  re- 
collected deportment.  It  is  a mute  but  elo- 
quent teaching,  which  draws  men  to  the  love  of 
virtue  and  the  service  of  God.  Thus  do  we 
fulfil  the  precept  of  our  Saviour:  “So  let 
your  light  shine  before  men  that  they  may 
see  your  good  works,  and  glorify  your  Father 
Who  is  in  Heaven.”  f The  prophet  Isaias  also 
tells  us  that  God’s  servants  should  be  plants 
bearing  fruits  of  righteousness  and  virtue,  the 
beauty  of  which  will  lead  men  to  extol  the 
power  of  their  Creator.  J This  does  not  mean 
that  our  good  works  must  be  done  to  gain  the 
applause  of  men,  for,  as  St.  Gregory  tells  us, 

* 2 Cor.  ii.  15.  + St.  Matt.  v.  16.  $ Isaias  lxi.  3. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


397 


“a  good  work  may  be  public  only  while  its  in- 
tention remains  a secret  between  God  and  the 
soul.  The  example  we  thus  afford  our  brethren 
destroys  neither  the  merit  of  humility  nor  the 
desire  to  please  only  God.”  * 

Another  fruit  which  we  derive  from  this 
exterior  modesty  is  a greater  facility  in  pre- 
serving the  recollection,  devotion,  and  purity 
of  the  soul.  The  interior  and  the  exterior  man 
are  so  closely  united  that  good  or  evil  in  one  is 
quickly  communicated  to  the  other.  If  order 
reign  in  the  soul  its  effect  is  experienced  in  the 
body  ; and  the  body,  if  disturbed,  renders  the 
soul  likewise  restless.  Each  may  in  all  respects 
be  considered  a mirror  of  the  other,  for  the 
actions  of  one  are  faithfully  represented  in  the 
other.  For  this  reason  a composed  and  modest 
bearing  must  contribute  to  interior  recollection 
and  modesty,  while  a restless  exterior  must  be 
incompatible  with  peace  of  soul.  Hence  the 
Wise  Man  tells  us  : “He  that  is  hasty  with  his 
feet  shall  stumble.”  f Thus  would  he  teach  us 
that  he  whose  exterior  is  wanting  in  that  calm 
gravity  which  is  the  distinctive  mark  of  God’s 
servants  must  inevitably  stumble  and  frequently 
fall. 

A third  effect  of  the  virtue  we  are  consider- 
ing is  to  communicate  to  man  a composure  and 
gravity  befitting  any  office  he  may  fill.  We 
behold  an  example  of  this  in  Job,  who  tells  us 
that  the  “light  [the  dignity]  of  his  counte- 
nance never  fell  to  the  earth.”  J And  speaking 
of  the  authority  of  his  bearing,  he  says  : “The 

* “Moral.,”  xxix.  18.  t Prov.  xix.  2.  $ Job  xxix.  24. 


398 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


young  men  saw  me  and  hid  themselves,  and  the 
old  men  rose  up  and  stood.  The  princes  ceased 
to  speak,  and  laid  the  finger  on  their  mouth. 
The  rulers  held  their  peace,  and  their  tongue 
cleaved  to  their  throat/5  * But  the  gravity 
and  dignity  of  this  holy  man  were  mingled  with 
so  much  sweetness  and  mercy  that,  as  he  tells 
us,  “when  seated  as  a king  with  his  army 
about  him  he  was  a comforter  to  them  that 
mourned.55  f 

Wise  men  condemn  this  want  of  modest 
gravity,  less  as  a fault  in  itself  than  as  a mark 
of  levity ; for,  as  we  have  already  observed,  an 
unreserved  and  frivolous  exterior  indicates  an 
uncontrolled  and  ill-regulated  interior.  Hence 
the  author  of  Ecclesiasticus  says  : “The  attire 
of  the  body,  and  the  laughter  of  the  teeth,  and 
the  gait  of  the  man  show  what  he  is.55  J “As 
the  faces  of  them  that  look  therein  shine  in  the 
water,55  says  Solomon,  “ so  the  hearts  of  men 
are  laid  open  to  the  wise  55  8 by  their  exterior 
acts. 

Such  are  the  benefits  which  result  from  a 
grave  and  modest  deportment.  We  cannot  but 
deplore  the  conduct  of  those  who,  through 
human  respect,  laugh  and  jest  with  a freedom 
unbecoming  their  profession,  and  allow  them- 
selves indulgences  which  deprive  them  of  many 
of  the  fruits  of  virtue.  “A  religious,55  says 
St.  John  Climachus,  “should  not  abandon 
his  fasts  through  fear  of  falling  into  the  sin 
of  vain-glory. 55  Neither  should  fear  of  the 

* Job  xix.  8,  9,  10.  + lb.  25,  $ Ecclus.  xix.  27. 

§Prov.  xxvii.  19. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


399 


world's  displeasure  cause  us  to  lose  the  advan- 
tages of  gravity  and  modesty  in  our  conduct ; 
for  it  is  as  unreasonable  to  sacrifice  a virtue 
through  fear  of  offending  men  as  it  would  be 
to  seek  to  overcome  one  vice  by  another. 

The  preceding  remarks  apply  to  our  manners 
in  general.  We  shall  next  treat  of  the  modesty 
and  sobriety  which  we  should  observe  at  table. 

Section  III. 

Temperance. 

The  first  thing  to  be  done  for  the  reforma- 
tion of  the  body  is  to  put  a rigorous  curb  on 
the  appetites  and  to  refrain  from  immoderate 
indulgence  of  any  of  the  senses.  As  myrrh, 
which  is  an  exceedingly  bitter  substance,  pre- 
serves the  body  from  corruption  after  death,  so 
mortification  preserves  it  during  life  from  the 
corruption  of  vice.  For  this  reason  we  shall 
consider  the  efficacy  of  sobriety,  or  temperance 
— a virtue  upon  which  all  the  others  depend,  but 
which  is  very  difficult  to  attain  because  of  the 
resistance  of  our  corrupt  nature. 

Eead,  then,  the  words  in  which  the  Holy 
Spirit  deigns  to  instruct  us  in  this  respect  : 
“ Use  as  a frugal  man  the  things  that  are  set 
before  thee,  lest  if  thou  eatest  much  thou  be 
hated.  Leave  off  first  for  manners'  sake,  and 
exceed  not  lest  thou  offend.  And  if  thou  sit- 
test  among  many,  reach  not  thy  hand  out  first 
of  all,  and  be  not  the  first  to  ask  for  drink."  * 
Here  are  rules  worthy  of  the  Sovereign  Master, 
Who  wills  that  we  should  imitate  in  our  actions 

* Ecclus.  xxxi.  19,  20,  21. 


400 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


the  decorum  and  order  which  reign  in  all  His 
works.  St.  Bernard  teaches  us  the  same  lesson 
m these  words  : “ In  regard  to  eating  there  are 
four  things  to  be  regulated  : the  time,  the 
manner,  the  quantity,  and  the  quality.  The 
time  should  be  limited  to  the  usual  hours  of 
our  repast;  the  manner  should  be  free  from 
that  eagerness  which  makes  us  appear  absorbed 
in  what  is  set  before  us ; the  quantity  and 
quality  should  not  exceed  what  is  granted 
others,  except  when  a condition  of  health 
manifestly  requires  delicacies.  ” * 

In  forcible  words/ supported  by  appropriate 
examples,  St.  Gregory  declares  the  same  senti- 
ments : “It  belongs  to  abstinence  not  to  anti- 
cipate the  ordinary  time  of  meals,  as  Jonathan 
did  when  he  ate  the  honeycomb  ; f not  to  de- 
sire the  greatest  delicacies,  as  the  Israelites  did 
in  the  desert  when  they  longed  for  the  flesh- 
pots  of  Egypt ; J not  to  wish  for  the  choicest 
preparation  of  food,  as  the  people  of  Sodom  ; § 
and  not  to  yield  to  greediness,  as  Esau  did  || 
when  he  sold  his  birthright  for  a mess  of 
pottage.”  T 

Hugh  of  St.  Victor  tells  us  we  must  be  very 
attentive  to  our  deportment  at  table,  always 
observing  a certain  modesty  of  the  eyes  and  a 
reserve  of  speech.  There  are  some,  he  says, 
who  are  no  sooner  seated  at  table  than  their 
uncontrolled  appetite  is  manifested  by  their 
bearing : their  eyes  eagerly  scan  the  whole 
board ; they  rudely  help  themselves  before 

* Ep.  ad  Fratres  de  Monte  Dei.  1 1 Kings  xiv.  27. 

$ Exod.  xvi.  3.  § Gen.  xix.  H Gen.  xxv.  33. 

“Moral.”  xxx.  27. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


401 


others,  and  seize  upon  the  nearest  dish,  regard- 
less of  all  save  self.  They  approach  the  table 
as  a general  approaches  a fort  which  he  is  to 
assail,  as  if  they  were  considering  how  they  can 
most  quickly  consume  all  that  lies  before  them.* 
Control  these  disgraceful  indications  of  a de- 
grading vice,  and  overcome  the  vice  itself  by 
restricting  the  quantity  and  quality  of  your 
food.  Bear  these  wise  counsels  in  mind  at  all 
times,  but  particularly  when  the  appetite  is 
stimulated  by  hunger,  or  by  rare  and  sump- 
tuous viands  which  prove  strong  incentives  to 
gluttony.  Beware  of  the  illusions  of  this  vice, 
which  St.  John  Climachus  tells  us  is  most  de- 
ceptive. At  the  beginning  of  a repast  it  is  so 
clamorous  that  it  would  seem  that  no  amount 
could  satisfy  our  hunger  ; but  if  we  are  firm  in 
resisting  its  unruly  demands  we  shall  see  that 
a moderate  portion  is  sufficient  for  nature.  An 
excellent  remedy  against  gluttony  is  to  bear  in 
mind  when  we  go  to  table  that  there  are,  as  a 
pagan  philosopher  says,  two  guests  to  be  pro- 
vided for  : the  body,  to  which  we  must  furnish 
the  food  which  its  necessity  craves ; and  our 
soul,  which  we  must  maintain  by  the  virtues  of 
self-denial  and  temperance.  A no  less  effica- 
cious remedy  is  to  compare  the  happy  fruits  of 
abstinence  with  the  gross  pleasures  of  gluttony, 
which  will  enable  us  to  appreciate  the  folly  of 
sacrificing  such  lasting  advantages  for  such 
pernicious  and  fleeting  gratifications. 

Bemember,  moreover,  that  of  all  the  plea- 
sures of  the  senses  those  of  taste  and  feeling  are 

* “Discip.  Monast.” 


402 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


the  lowest.  We  have  them  in  common  with 
all  animals,  even  the  most  imperfect,  while 
there  are  many  which  lack  the  other  three, 
seeing,  hearing,  and  smelling.  These  former 
senses,  tasting  and  feeling,  are  not  only  the 
basest,  but  their  pleasures  are  the  least  endur- 
ing, for  they  vanish  with  the  object  which  pro- 
duced them.  Add  to  these  considerations  the 
thought  of  the  sufferings  of  the  martyrs,  and 
the  fasts  and  mortifications  of  the  Saints. 
Think,  too,  of  your  many  sins  which  must  be 
expiated  ; of  the  pains  of  purgatory  ; of  the 
torments  of  hell.  ' Each  of  these  things  will 
tell  you  how  necessary  it  is  to  take  up  the 
cross,  to  overcome  your  appetites,  and  to  do 
penance  for  the  sinful  gratifications  of  the  past. 
Remember,  then,  the  duty  of  self-denial ; pre- 
pare for  your  necessary  meals  with  such  re- 
flections before  your  mind,  and  you  will  see 
how  easy  it  will  be  to  observe  the  rules  of  mod- 
eration and  sobriety. 

Though  this  great  prudence  is  necessary  in 
eating,  how  much  more  is  required  in  drink- 
ing ! There  is  nothing  more  injurious  to  chas- 
tity than  the  excessive  use  of  wine,  in  which, 
as  the  Apostle  says,  there  is  luxury.*  It  is  at 
all  times  the  capital  enemy  of  this  angelic 
virtue  ; but  it  is  particularly  in  youth  that  such 
indulgence  is  most  fatal.  Hence  St.  Jerome 
says  that  wine  and  youth  are  two  incentives  to 
impurity,  f Wine  is  to  youth  what  fuel  is  to 
fire.  As  oil  poured  upon  the  flames  only  in- 
creases their  intensity,  so  wine,  like  a violent 

* Ephes.  v.  18.  t Ad  Eustoch.  de  Cust.  Virg. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


403 


conflagration,  heats  the  blood,  enkindling  and 
exciting  the  passions  to  the  highest  pitch  of 
folly  and  madness.  Witness  the  excesses  into 
which  man  is  led  by  hatred,  love,  revenge,  and 
other  passions,  when  stimulated  by  intoxicating 
liquors.  The  natural  effect  of  this  fatal  indul- 
gence is  to  counteract  all  the  results  of  the 
moral  virtues.  These  subdue  and  control  the 
baser  passions,  but  wine  excites  and  urges  them 
to  the  wildest  licentiousness.  Judge,  there- 
fore, with  what  vigilance  you  should  guard 
against  the  attacks  of  such  an  enemy.  Kemem- 
ber,  too,  that  by  wine  is  meant  every  kind  of 
drink  capable  of  robbing  man  of  the  use  of  his 
reason  or  his  senses.  A philosopher  has  wisely 
said  that  the  vine  bears  three  kinds  of  grapes  : 
one  for  necessity,  one  for  pleasure,  and  one  for 
folly.  In  other  words,  wine  taken  with  modera- 
tion supports  our  weakness ; beyond  this  limit 
it  only  flatters  the  senses  ; and  drunk  to  excess 
it  produces  a species  of  madness.  Heed  no 
inspiration  or  thought  which  you  have  reason 
to  think  is  excited  by  wine,  the  worst  of  evil 
counsellors.  Avoid  with  equal  care  all  disputes 
or  arguments  at  table,  for  they  are  often  the  be- 
ginning of  grave  quarrels.  Be  no  less  moderate 
in  speech  than  in  the  indulgence  of  your  appe- 
tite ; for,  as  Holy  Scripture  tells  us,  “ there  is 
no  secret  where  drunkenness  reigneth.”  * We 
shall  find  rather  unbridled  tongues,  immoderate 
laughter,  vulgar  jokes,  violent  disputes,  the 
revelation  of  secrets,  and  many  other  unhappy 
consequences  of  intemperance. 

* Prov.  xxxi.  4. 


404 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Another  evil  against  which  I would  warn  you 
is  dwelling  upon  the  merits  of  certain  dishes,  and 
condemning  others  because  they  are  not  so  deli- 
cate. How  unworthy  it  is  of  man  to  fix  his  mind 
and  heart  on  eating  and  drinking  with  such 
eagerness  that  the  burden  of  his  conversation  is 
on  the  excellent  fish  of  such  a river,  the  luscious 
fruit  of  such  a country,  and  the  fine  wines  of 
such  a region  ! This  is  a clear  proof  that  he 
has  lost  sight  of  the  true  end  of  eating,  which  is 
to  support  nature,  and  that,  instead  of  devoting 
to  this  work  the  senses  destined  for  it,  he  de- 
bases his  heart  and  his  intelligence  to  make 
them  also  slaves  of  his  gluttony.  Avoid  with 
especial  care  all  attacks  upon  your  neighbor’s 
character.  The  malicious  rapacity  which 
prompts  us  to  tear  our  neighbor’s  reputation 
in  pieces  was  justly  condemned  by  St.  John 
Chrysostom  as  a species  of  cannibalism  : “ Will 
you  not  be  satisfied  with  eating  the  flesh  of 
animals  ? Must  you  devour  human  flesh  by  rob- 
bing another  of  his  good  name  ? ” St.  Augus- 
tine had  so  great  a horror  for  this  vice,  from 
which  so  few  tables  are  free,  that  he  inscribed 
on  the  walls  of  his  dining-room  the  following- 
lines  : 

“ This  board  allows  no  vile  detractor  place 
Whose  tongue  will  charge  the  absent  with  disgrace.”  * 

Still  another  point  to  which  I wish  to  direct 
your  attention  is  the  warning  given  by  St. 
Jerome,  that  it  is  better  to  eat  moderately  every 

* “ Quisquis  amat  dictis  absentinm  rodere  vitam 
Hanc  mensam  vetitam  noverit  esse  sibi.” 

—In  “ Vita  Aug.,”  c.  22. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


405 


(lay  than  to  fast  for  several  days  and  then  to  eat 
to  excess.  A gentle  rain,  he  says,  in  proper  sea- 
son benefits  the  earth,  but  violent  floods  only 
devastate  it.* 

Finally,  let  necessity,  not  pleasure,  govern  you 
in  eating  and  drinking.  I do  not  say  that  you 
must  allow  your  body  to  want  for  nourishment. 
Oh  ! no  ; like  any  animal  destined  for  the  ser- 
vice of  man.  your  body  must  be  supported.  All 
that  is  required  is  to  control  it,  and  never  to 
eat  solely  for  pleasure.  We  must  conquer,  not 
destroy,  the  flesh,  says  St.  Bernard  ; we  must 
keep  it  in  subjection,  that  it  may  not  grow 
proud,  for  it  belongs  to  it  to  obey,  not  to  gov- 
ern. f 

This  will  suffice  to  show  the  importance  of 
this  virtue.  But  he  who  would  learn  more  of 
the  happy  fruits  of  temperance,  and  its  salutary 
effects  not  only  upon  the  soul  but  even  upon 
health,  life,  honor,  and  happiness,  may  read  a 
special  treatise  on  this  subject  which  we  have 
added  to  our  book  on  Meditation  and  Prayer. 

Section  IV. 

The  Government  of  the  Senses. 

The  next  step  in  the  reformation  of  the  body 
is  the  government  of  the  senses.  These  are  the 
avenues  which  a Christian  should  guard  with 
special  care,  particularly  the  eyes,  which,  in  the 
language  of  Holy  Scripture,  are  the  windows 
through  which  death  enters  to  rob  us  of  life. 
Persons  desirous  of  making  progress  in  prayer 

* Ep.  vii.  ad  Lsec.  t Ep.  ad  FF.  de  Monte  Dei. 


406 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


should  be  very  vigilant  in  guarding  this  sense, 
for  this  watchfulness  not  only  promotes  recol- 
lection, but  is  a most  efficacious  means  of  pre- 
serving chastity.  Without  this  guard  they  are 
a prey  to  all  the  vanities  which  surround  them, 
and  which  take  such  possession  of  the  imagina- 
tion that  it  is  impossible  to  banish  them  during 
prayer.  This  is  the  reason  of  the  modesty  of 
the  eyes  which  devout  souls  observe.  Not  only 
do  they  avoid  images  which  could  tarnish  the 
purity  of  their  hearts,  but  they  resolutely  turn 
their  eyes  from  curious  objects  and  worldly  vani- 
ties, that  their  mind  and  heart  may  be  free  to 
converse  with  God  without  distraction,  and  to 
advance  in  the  knowledge  of  spiritual  things. 
Prayer  is  so  delicate  an  exercise  that  it  is  im- 
peded not  only  by  sinful  images,  but  also  by  the 
representation  of  objects  otherwise  harmless  in 
themselves. 

The  sense  of  hearing  requires  a no  less  vigi- 
lant guard,  for  through  it  we  learn  multitude 
of  things  which  weary,  distract,  and  even  defile 
the  soul.  We  should  protect  our  ears  not  only 
from  evil  words,  but  from  frivolous  conversa- 
tions, worldly  gossip,  and  idle  discourses.  During 
meditation  we  suffer  from  a want  of  vigilance  in 
this  respect,  for  these  things  are  great  obstacles 
to  recollection,  and  persistently  interpose  be- 
tween God  and  the  soul  in  time  of  prayer. 

Little  need  be  said  of  the  sense  of  smell,  for 
an  inordinate  love  of.  perfumes  and  sweet  es- 
sences is  so  sensual  and  effeminate  that  most 
men  are  ashamed  of  it,  for  it  is  a gratification 
in  which  few  but  women  indulge. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


407 


Section  V. 

The  Government  of  the  Tongue. 

Here  is  a subject  upon  which  there  is  much 
to  be  said,  for  we  are  told  in  Holy  Scripture 
that  “ death  and  life  are  in  the  power  of  the 
tongue.”  * From  this  we  can  understand  that 
the  happiness  or  misery  of  every  man  depends 
upon  the  use  he  makes  of  this  organ.  St.  James 
asserts  this  truth  no  less  strongly  when  he  says  : 
“ If  any  man  offend  not  in  word  , the  same  is  a 
perfect  man.  He  is  able  also  with  a bridle  to 
lead  about  the  whole  body.  We  put  bits  into 
the  mouths  of  horses  that  they  may  obey  us, 
and  we  turn  about  their  whole  body.  Bel] old 
also  ships,  whereas  they  are  great  and  are  driven 
by  strong  winds,  yet  are  they  turned  about  with 
a small  helm  whithersoever  the  force  of  the  gov- 
ernor willeth.  So  the  tongue  also  is,  indeed,  a 
little  member  and  boasteth  great  things.  Be- 
hold how  small  a fire  what  a great  wood  it 
kindleth.  And  the  tongue  is  a fire,  a world  of 
iniquity.”  f To  govern  this  great  instrument 
for  good  we  must  bear  in  mind,  when  we  speak, 
four  things  : of  what  we  speak,  how  we  speak, 
the  time  we  speak,  and  the  object  for  which  we 
speak. 

In  regard  to  the  first  point,  what  we  speak, 
remember  the  counsel  of  the  Apostle  : “Let  no 
evil  speech  proceed  from  your  mouth,  but  that 
which  is  good  to  the  edification  of  faith,  that  it 
may  administer  grace  to  the  hearers.  All  un- 
cleanness, or  covetousness,  let  it  not  be  so  much 

* Prov.  xviii.  21.-  t St.  James  ill.  2-6. 


408 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


as  named  among  you,  as  becometk  saints,  or  ob- 
scenity, or  foolish  talking,  or  scurrility.5’  * As 
the  sailor  always  bears  with  him  a chart  indi- 
cating the  shoals  and  rocks  which  could  wreck 
his  vessel,  so  should  the  Christian  bear  with  him 
these  counsels  of  the  Apostle  indicating  the 
shoals  of  speech  which  could  wreck  him  in  his 
voyage  to  eternity.  Be  no  less  careful  in  guard- 
ing a secret  which  has  been  confided  to  you,  for 
the  betrayal  of  a trust  is  one  of  the  vilest  faults 
into  which  the  tongue  can  lead  us. 

In  regard  to  the  second  point,  how  we  are 
to  speak,  let  us  observe  a just  medium  between 
silence  and  talkativeness,  between  timidity  and 
self-sufficiency,  between  frivolity  and  pomposity ; 
always  speaking  with  becoming  gravity,  mode- 
ration, sweetness,  and  simplicity.  Beware  of 
haughtily  asserting  and  obstinately  persisting 
in  your  statements,  for  this  fault  gives  rise  to 
disputes  which  wound  charity  and  destroy  the 
peace  of  the  soul.  It  is  the  part  of  a generous 
nature  to  yield  in  such  contentions,  and  a pru- 
dent man  will  follow  the  counsel  of  the  inspired 
writer  : “ In  many  things  be  as  if  thou  wert 
ignorant,  and  hear  in  silence  and  withal  seek- 
ing.:’t 

Consider  also  the  necessity  of  observing  when 
you  speak,  and  always  endeavor  to  select  a suit- 
able time  : “ A parable  coming  out  of  a fool’s 
mouth  shall  be  rejected,  for  he  doth  not  speak 
it  in  due  season.”  J 

Finally,  we  must  consider  the  end  for  which 
we  speak.  There  are  some  wffiose  only  pur- 

* Ephee.  iv.  29,  and  v.  3,  4.  t Ecclns.  xxxii.  12.  $ Ecclus.  xx.  22. 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


409 


pose  is  to  appear  learned.  Others  desire  to  pa- 
rade their  wit  and  conversational  powers.  The 
first  are  thus  led  into  hypocrisy  and  deceit,  and 
the  second  become  the  sport  of  self-love  and 
vanity.  It  does  not  suffice,  therefore,  that  our 
conversation  be  good  in  itself —it  must  be  direct- 
ed to  some  good  end,  such  as  the  glory  of  God 
or  the  profit  of  our  neighbor.  In  addition  to 
this  we  must  also  consider  the  persons  to  whom 
we  speak.  For  example,  it  does  not  become 
the  young  to  engross  the  conversation  in  the 
presence  of  their  elders,  nor  the  ignorant  in  the 
presence  of  the  learned,  nor  lay  persons  in  the 
presence  of  ecclesiastics  or  religious.  When  you 
have  reason  to  think  that  your  words  may  be 
untimely  or  presumptuous,  be  silent.  All  per- 
sons are  not  capable  of  judging  correctly  in 
these  points,  and,  therefore,  in  doubt,  the  wisest 
course  is  a prudent  silence.  We  shall  thus  con- 
form to  all  the  rules  we  have  been  considering  ; 
for,  as  the  Wise  Man  says:  “ Even  a fool,  if  he 
will  hold  his  peace,  shall  be  counted  wise  ; and 
if  he  close  his  lips,  a man  of  understanding.55  * 

Section  VI. 

The  Mortification  of  the  Passions. 

Having  thus  regulated  the  body  and  all  its 
senses,  the  most  important  reformation  still  re- 
mains to  be  effected,  which  is  that  of  the  soul 
with  all  its  powers.  Here  the  first  to  present 
itself  is  the  sensitive  appetite  which  comprises 
all  our  natural  affections  : love,  hatred,  joy, 

* Prov.  xvii.  28. 


410 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


sorrow,  fear,  hope,  anger,  and  other  sentiments 
of  a like  nature.  This  appetite  is  the  inferior 
part  of  the  soul,  which  gives  us  our  strongest 
resemblance  to  irrational  animals,  because,  like 
them,  it  is  guided  solely  by  inclination.  No- 
thing degrades  us  more  or  leads  us  further  from 
God.  Hence  St.  Bernard  says  that  if  we  take 
away  self-love,  by  which  he  understands  all 
the  movements  of  the  sensitive  appetite,  there 
will  be  no  longer  any  reason  for  the  existence 
of  hell.*  The  sensitive  appetite  is  the  arsenal 
which  supplies  sin  with  its  most  dangerous 
arms.  It  is  the  vulnerable  part  of  the  soul,  a 
second  Eve,  frail  and  inconstant,  heeding  the 
wiles  of  the  old  serpent  and  dragging  with  her 
in  her  fall  the  unhappy  Adam — that  is,  the  su- 
perior part  of  the  soul,  the  seat  of  the  will  and 
the  understanding.  Original  sin  is  here  mani- 
fested in  all  its  power.  Here  the  malignity  of 
its  poison  is  concentrated.  Here  is  the  field  of 
man’s  combats,  defeats,  and  victories.  Here 
is  the  school  in  which  virtue  is  exercised  and 
trained,  for  all  our  courage,  all  our  merit  con- 
sists in  overcoming  the  blind  passions  which 
spring  from  the  sensitive  appetite. 

This  is  why  our  soul  is  represented  sometimes 
as  a vine  needing  the  careful  pruning  of  the  hus- 
bandman ; sometimes  as  a garden  from  which 
the  gardener  must  diligently  uproot  the  weeds 
of  vice  to  give  place  to  the  plants  of  virtues.  It 
should  be  the  principal  occupation  of  our  lives, 
therefore,  to  cultivate  this  garden,  ruthlessly 
plucking  from  our  soul  all  that  can  choke  the 

* “ De  Resurrectione  Dni.,”  Serm.  iii. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


411 


growth  of  good.  We  shall  thus  become  true 
children  of  God,  guided  by  the  motions  of  the 
Holy  Ghost.  We  shall  thus  live  as  spiritual 
men,  following  the  guidance  of  grace  and  the 
dictates  of  reason,  and  not  as  those  carnal  men 
who,  following  the  irrational  animals,  obey  only 
the  impulse  of  passion.  This  subjection  of  the 
sensitive  appetite  is  the  mortification  so  much 
commended  in  Scripture ; the  death  to  which 
the  Apostle  so  frequently  exhorts  us  ; the  prac- 
tice of  justice  and  truth  so  constantly  extolled 
by  David  and  the  other  prophets.  Therefore, 
let  it  be  the  object  of  all  our  labors,  all  our 
prayers,  and  all  our  pious  exercises. 

Each  one  should  carefully  study  his  own  dis- 
position and  inclinations,  in  order  to  place  the 
most  vigilant  guard  on  the  weakest  side  of  his 
nature.  We  must  wage  constant  war  against 
all  our  appetites,  but  it  is  particularly  neces- 
sary to  combat  the  desire  of  honors,  of  riches, 
and  of  pleasures,  for  these  are  the  roots  of  all 
evil. 

Beware,  too,  of  that  pride  which  bears  with 
no  opposition.  It  is  a fault  which  prevails 
among  persons  of  elevated  station  accustomed 
to  command,  and  to  deny  themselves  no  caprice. 
To  conquer  it,  learn  to  deny  yourself  innocent 
gratifications,  that  you  may  more  easily  sacrifice 
those  which  are  unlawful.  Learn  to  bear  con- 
tradictions with  a dignity  and  patience  worthy 
of  a creature  who  was  not  made  for  the  tilings 
of  this  world,  but  who  aspires  to  immortality* 
Such  exercises  will  render  us  skilful  in  the  use 
of  spiritual  weapons,  which  require  no  less  prac- 


412 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


tice  than  is  necessary  for  the  proper  management 
of  material  arms.  Much  more  important,  how- 
ever, is  a skilful  use  of  the  former,  for  a victory 
over  self,  over  pride,  or  over  any  passion  far  out- 
weighs all  the  conquests  of  the  world.  Humble 
yourself,  then,  in  the  performance  of  lowly  and 
obscure  works,  regardless  of  the  world’s  opinion ; 
for  what  can  it  take  from  us,  or  what  can  it  give 
us,  when  our  inheritance  is  God  Himself  ? 

Section  VII. 

The  Reformation  of  the  Will. 

One  of  the  most  efficacious  means  of  effecting 
this  reformation  is  to  strengthen  and  adorn  the 
superior  will — that  is,  the  rational  appetite — 
with  humility  of  heart,  poverty  of  spirit,  and  a 
holy  hatred  of  self.  If  we  possess  these  the 
labor  of  mortification  is  easily  accomplished. 
Humility,  according  to  the  definition  of  St.  Ber- 
nard, is  contempt  of  self  founded  on  a true 
knowledge  of  our  baseness.  The  effect  of  this 
virtue  is  to  pluck  from  our  heart  all  the  roots 
of  pride  as  well  as  all  love  of  earthly  honors  and 
dignities.  It  inspires  us  to  seek  the  lowest 
place,  persuading  us  that  had  another  received 
the  graces  we  enjoy  he  would  have  been  more 
grateful  and  would  have  used  them  more  profit- 
ably for  the  glory  of  God.  It  is  not  sufficient 
that  man  cherish  these  sentiments  in  his  heart ; 
they  should  also  be  evident  in  his  deportment 
and  surroundings,  which,  regardless  of  the 
world’s  opinion,  should  be  as  humble  and  sim- 
ple as  his  position  will  admit.  And  while  he 


The  Sinner’s  Guide • 


413 


maintains  the  dignity  due  to  his  station  his 
heart  should  ever  be  ready  to  submit  not  only 
to  superiors  and  equals,  but  even  to  inferiors 
for  the  love  of  God. 

The  second  disposition  required  to  strengthen 
and  adorn  the  will  is  poverty  of  spirit,  which 
consists  in  a voluntary  contempt  for  the  things 
of  this  world,  and  in  a perfect  contentment  in 
the  position  in  which  God  has  placed  us,  how- 
ever poor  and  lowly  it  may  be.  This  virtue 
effectually  destroys  cupidity,  and  affords  us  so 
great  a peace  and  contentment  that  Seneca  did 
not  hesitate  to  affirm  that  he  who  closed  his 
heart  to  the  claims  of  unruly  desires  was  not 
inferior  in  wealth  or  happiness  to  Jupiter  him- 
self. By  this  he  signified  that  as  man’s  misery 
springs  from  unfulfilled  desires,  he  may  be  said 
to  be  very  near  the  summit  of  happiness  who 
has  learned  to  subdue  his  desires  so  that  they 
cannot  disturb  him. 

The  third  disposition  is  a holy  hatred  of  our- 
selves. “ He  that  loveth  his  life  shall  lose  it,” 
says  our  Saviour,  “and  he  that  hateth  his  life 
in  this  world  keepeth  it  unto  life  eternal.”  * 
By  this  hatred  of  self  our  Lord  did  not  mean 
that  wicked  hatred  in  which  they  indulge  who 
yield  to  despair,  but  that  aversion  which  the 
Saints  experienced  for  their  flesh,  which  they 
regarded  as  the  source  of  many  evils  and  as  a 
great  obstacle  to  good.  Hence  they  subjected 
it  to  the  empire  of  reason,  and  denied  its  inor- 
dinate desires,  that  it  might  continue  an  humble 
servant  and  willing  helper  of  the  soul.  If  we 

* St.  John  xii.  25. 


414 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


treat  it  otherwise  we  shall  realize  these  words  of 
the  Wise  Man:  “ He  that  nourisheth  his  ser- 
vant delicately  from  his  childhood,  afterwards 
shall  find  him  stubborn.5’*  This  hatred  of 
self  is  our  chief  instrument  in  the  work  of  sal- 
vation. It  enables  us  to  uproot  and  cast  from 
us  all  our  evil  inclinations,  however  much  nature 
may  rebel.  Without  it  how  could  we  strike 
rude  blows,  penetrate  to  the  quick  with  the 
knife  of  mortification,  and  tear  from  our  hearts 
objects  upon  which  our  affections  are  centred  ? 
Yes,  the  arm  of  mortification,  which  draws  its 
force  as  much  from  hatred  of  self  as  from  love 
of  God,  enables  us  to  treat  our  failings  with 
the  firmness  of  a skilful  physician,  and  relent- 
lessly to  cut  and  burn  with  no  other  thought 
than  to  rid  the  soul  of  every  evil  tendency. 
Having  developed  this  subject  in  the  “Me- 
morial of  a Christian  Life,”  we  shall  not  here 
speak  of  it  at  greater  length. 

Section  YIII. 

The  Government  of  the  Imagination. 

Besides  these  two  faculties  of  the  sensitive 
appetite  there  are  two  others,  imagination  and 
understanding,  which  belong  to  the  intellect. 
The  imagination,  a less  elevated  power  than 
the  understanding,  is  of  all  the  faculties  the  one 
in  which  the  effects  of  original  sin  are  most 
evident,  and  which  is  least  under  the  control  of 
reason.  It  continually  escapes  our  vigilance, 
and  like  a restless  child  runs  hither  and  thither, 

* Prov  xxix  21. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide, 


415 


sometimes  flying  to  the  remotest  corners  of  the 
world  before  we  are  aware  of  its  ramblings.  It 
seizes  with  avidity  upon  objects  which  allure  it, 
persistently  returning  after  we  have  withdrawn 
it  from  them.  If,  therefore,  instead  of  con- 
trolling this  restless  faculty,  we  treat  it  like  a 
spoiled  child,  indulging  all  its  caprices,  we 
strengthen  its  evil  tendencies,  and  in  time  of 
prayer  we  shall  vainly  seek  to  restrain  it.  Un- 
accustomed to  pious  objects,  it  will  rebel  against 
us. 

Knowing  the  dangerous  propensities  of  this 
power,  we  should  vigilantly  guard  it  and  cut 
off  from  it  all  unprofitable  reflections.  To  do 
this  effectually  we  must  carefully  examine  the 
thoughts  presented  to  our  minds,  that  we  may 
see  which  we  shall  admit  and  wdiich  we  shall 
reject.  If  we  are  careless  in  this  respect,  ideas 
and  sentiments  will  penetrate  our  hearts  and 
not  only  weaken  devotion  and  diminish  fervor, 
but  destroy  charity,  wdiichis  the  life  of  the  soul. 
We  read  in  Holy  Scripture  that  while  his  door- 
keeper, who  should  have  been  cleansing  wheat, 
fell  asleep,  assassins  entered  the  house  of  isboseth, 
son  of  Saul,  and  slew  him.*  A like  fate  will  be 
ours  if  we  permit  sleep  to  overcome  our  judg- 
ment, which  should  be  employed  in  separating 
the  chaff  from  the  grain — that  is,  good  thoughts 
from  evil  thoughts.  While  thus  unprotected, 
bad  desires,  the  assassins  of  the  soul,  enter  and 
rob  us  of  the  life  of  grace. 

But  this  vigilance  not  only  serves  to  preserve 
the  life  of  the  soul,  but  most  efficaciously  pro- 

* 2 Kings  iv. 


416 


The  Sinner’s  Guide • 


motes  recollection  in  prayer;  for  as  a wandering 
and  uncontrolled  imagination  is  a source  of 
much  trouble  in  prayer,  so  a subdued  imagina- 
tion accustomed  to  pious  subjects  sweetens  our 
conversation  with  God. 

Section  IX. 

The  Government  of  the  Understanding. 

We  have  now  come  to  the  greatest  and 
noblest  of  the  faculties,  the  understanding, 
which  raises  man  above  all  visible  creatures, 
and  in  which  he  most  resembles  his  Creator. 
The  beauty  of  this  power  depends  upon  that 
rare  virtue,  prudence,  which  excels  all  others. 
In  the  spiritual  life  prudence  is  to  the  soul 
what  the  eyes  are  to  the  body,  what  a pilot  is  to 
a vessel,  what  a head  is  to  a commonwealth. 
For  this  reason  the  great  St.  Anthony,  in  a 
conference  with  several  holy  monks  on  the  ex- 
cellence of  the  virtues,  gave  the  first  place  to 
prudence,  which  guides  and  controls  all  the 
others.  Let  him,  therefore,  who  desires  to 
practise  the  other  virtues  with  profit  earnestly 
endeavor  to  be  guided  by  prudence  in  all  things. 
Not  limited  to  any  special  duty,  it  enters  into 
the  fulfilment  of  all  duties,  into  the  practice  of 
all  virtues,  and  preserves  order  and  harmony 
among  them.  Having  the  foundation  of  faith 
and  charity,  it  first  belongs  to  prudence  to 
direct  all  our  actions  to  God,  Who  is  our  last 
end.  As  self-love,  according  to  a holy  writer, 
seeks  self  in  all  things,  even  the  holiest,  pru- 
dence is  ever  ready  to  examine  what  are  the 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


417 


motives  of  our  actions,  whether  we  have  God  or 
self  as  the  end  of  what  we  do. 

Prudence  also  guides  us  in  our  intercourse 
with  our  neighbor,  that  we  may  afford  him 
edification  and  not  give  him  scandal.  To  this 
end  it  teaches  us  to  observe  the  condition  and 
character  of  those  about  us,  that  we  may  more 
wisely  benefit  them,  patiently  bearing  with  their 
failings  and  closing  our  eyes  to  infirmities 
which  we  cannot  cure.  “A  wise  man,”  says 
Aristotle,  “should  not  expect  the  same  degree 
of  certainty  in  all  things,  for  some  are  more 
susceptible  of  proof  than  others.  Nor  should 
he  expect  the  same  degree  of  perfection  in  all 
creatures,  for  some  are  capable  of  a perfection 
which  is  impossible  to  others.  Whoever,  there- 
fore, would  force  all  lives  to  the  same  standard 
of  virtue  would  do  more  harm  than  good.” 

Prudence  also  teaches  us  to  know  ourselves, 
our  inclinations,  our  failings,  and  our  evil  ten- 
dencies, that  we  may  not  presume  upon  our 
strength,  but,  recognizing  our  enemies,  persever- 
ingly  combat  them.  It  is  this  virtue  also 
which  enables  us  wisely  to  govern  the  tongue 
by  the  rules  which  we  have  already  given, 
teaching  us  when  to  be  silent  and  when  to 
speak.  Prudence  likewise  guards  us  against 
the  error  of  opening  our  minds  to  all  whom 
we  may  meet,  or  of  making  confidants  of  others 
without  due  reflection.  By  putting  a just  re- 
straint upon  our  words  it  saves  us  from  too 
freely  expressing  our  opinion  and  thereby  com- 
mitting many  faults.  Thus  are  we  kept  con- 
stantly reminded  of  the  words  of  Solomon  : 


418 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


“ A fool  uttereth  all  his  mind  ; a wise  man 
deferreth  and  keepeth  it  till  afterwards.”  * 
Prudence  also  forearms  us  against  dangers,  and 
strengthens  us  by  prayer  and  meditation  to 
meet  all  the  accidents  of  life.  This  is  the 
advice  of  the  sacred  writer  : “ Before  sickness 
take  a medicine.”  f 

Whenever,  therefore,  you  expect  to  partici- 
pate in  entertainments,  or  to  transact  business 
with  men  who  are  easily  angered,  or  to  en- 
counter any  danger,  endeavor  to  foresee  the 
perils  of  the  occasion  and  arm  yourself  against 
them.  Prudence  guides  us  in  the  treatment  of 
our  bodies,  causing  us  to  observe  a just  medium 
between  excessive  rigor  and  immoderate  indul- 
gence, so  that  we  may  neither  unduly  weaken 
the  flesh  nor  so  strengthen  it  that  it  will  rule 
the  spirit. 

It  is  also  the  duty  of  prudence  to  introduce 
moderation  into  all  our  works,  even  the  holiest, 
and  to  preserve  us  from  exhausting  the  spirit 
by  indiscreet  labor.  We  read  in  the  rules  of 
St.  Francis  that  the  spirit  must  rule  our  occu- 
pations, not  be  ruled  by  them.  Our  exterior 
labors  should  never  cause  us  to  lose  sight  of 
interior  duties,  nor  should  devotion  to  our 
neighbor  make  us  forget  what  we  owe  to  God. 
If  the  Apostles,  who  possessed  such  abundant 
grace,  deemed  it  expedient  to  renounce  the  care 
of  temporal  things  in  order  to  devote  them- 
selves to  the  great  work  of  preaching  and  other 
spiritual  functions,^  it  is  presumption  in  us 
to  suppose  that  we  have  strength  and  virtue 

* Prov.  xxix.  11.  f Ecclus.  xviii.  20.  X Acts  vi.  2,  3,  4. 


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419 


capable  of  undertaking  many  arduous  labors  at 
one  time. 

Finally,  prudence  enlightens  us  concerning 
the  snares  of  the  enemy,  counselling  us,  in  the 
words  of  the  Apostles,  “to  try  spirits  if  they 
be  of  God,  for  Satan  transformeth  himself  into 
an  Angel  of  light.  ” * There  is  no  temptation 
more  to  be  feared  than  one  which  presents 
itself  under  the  mask  of  virtue,  and  there  is 
none  which  the  devil  more  frequently  employs 
to  deceive  pious  souls.  Inspired  and  guided  by 
prudence,  we  shall  recognize  these  snares ; we 
shall  be  restrained  by  a salutary  fear  from  going 
where  there  is  danger,  but  animated  by  a holy 
courage  to  conquer  in  every  struggle  ; we  shall 
avoid  extremes ; we  shall  endeavor  to  prevent 
our  neighbor  from  suffering  scandal,  but  yet  we 
shall  not  be  daunted  by  every  groundless  fear  ; 
we  shall  learn  to  despise  the  opinions  of  the 
world,  and  not  to  fear  its  outcries  against  virtue, 
remembering,  with  the  Apostle,  that  if  we  please 
men  we  cannot  be  the  servants  of  Jesus 
Christ  f 

Section  X. 

Prudence  in  Temporal  Affairs. 

The  virtue  of  prudence  is  no  less  efficacious  in 
the  direction  of  temporal  affairs.  It  preserves 
us  from  serious,  and  sometimes  from  irremedi- 
able, errors  which  not  unfrequently  destroy  both 
our  material  and  spiritual  welfare.  To  escape 
this  double  misfortune  here  are  the  counsels 

* 1 St.  John  iv.  % and  2 Cor.  xi.  14. 


t Gal.  i.  10. 


420 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


which  prudence  suggests  : The  first  is  that  of 
the  Wise  Man,  who  says  : “ Let  thy  eyes  look 

straight  on,  and  let  thy  eyelids  go  before  thy 
steps/’*  In  other  words,  look  at  the  enter- 
prise you  are  about  to  undertake,  and  do  not 
rashly  enter  upon  it.  First  recommend  it  to 
God  ; then  weigh  all  its  circumstances,  and  the 
consequences  which  are  likely  to  follow  from 
it ; seek  counsel  of  just  minds  concerning  it ; 
deliberate  upon  the  advice  you  receive,  and 
reflect  upon  your  resolution  before  acting  upon 
it.  In  a word,  beware  of  the  four  great  enemies 
of  prudence  : precipitation,  passion,  obstinate 
persistence  in  our  own  opinions,  and  vanity. 
Frecipitation  admits  no  reasoning ; passion 
blinds  us  ; obstinacy  turns  a deaf  ear  to  all 
counsel  ; and  vanity  ruins  everything. 

It  also  belongs  to  prudence  to  observe  a just 
medium,  in  all  things,  for  extremes  are  no  less 
opposed  to  virtue  than  to  truth.  Let  not  the 
faults  of  a few  lead  you  to  condemn  the  multi- 
tude, nor  should  the  virtues  of  a few  lead  you 
to  suppose  that  all  are  pious.  Follow  the 
guidance  of  reason  in  all  things,  and  do  not 
allow  yourself  to  be  hurried  to  extremes  by 
passion  or  prejudice.  This  latter  failing  is  apt, 
moreover,  to  dispose  us  favorably  towards  what 
is  old,  and  give  us  a dislike  for  what  is  new. 
Prudence  guards  us  against  this,  for  age  can  no 
more  justify  what  is  bad  than  novelty  can  con- 
demn what  is  good.  Let  us  esteem  things  not 
for  their  age,  but  for  their  merit.  A vice  of 
long  standing  is  only  more  difficult  to  eradicate, 

* Prov.  iv.  25. 


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421 


and  a virtue  of  recent  growth  has  only  the  fault 
of  being  unknown. 

Beware  also  of  appearances.  There  are  few 
who  have  not  been  taught  bv  experience  how 
deceptive  these  often  are.  Finally,  let  us  be 
thoroughly  convinced  that  as  reflection  and 
gravity  are  the  inseparable  companions  of  pru- 
dence, so  rashness  and  levity  ever  accompany 
folly.  Therefore,  we  must  guard  against  these 
two  faults  at  all  times,  but  particularly  in  the 
following  cases  : in  believing  everything  that 
is  reported,  for  this  indicates  levity  of  mind ; 
in  making  promises,  in  which  we  often  bind  our- 
selves beyond  our  means  ; in  giving,  in  which 
liberality  often  makes  us  forget  justice;  in  form- 
ing resolutions  which  from  want  of  considera- 
tion often  lead  us  into  errors  ; in  conversation, 
in  which  so  many  faults  may  be  committed  ; 
and  in  temptations  to  anger,  which  shows  the 
folly  of  man.  “He  that  is  patient,”  says 
Solomon,  “is  governed  with  much  wisdom, 
but  he  that  is  impatient  exalteth  his  folly.”  * 

Section  XI. 

Means  of  Acquiring  this  Virtue. 

Hot  the  least  important  means  of  acquiring 
this  virtue  is  the  experience  of  our  own  failures 
and  the  success  of  others,  from  which  we  may 
gather  wise  lessons  of  prudence.  For  this 
reason  the  past  is  said  to  be  a wise  counsellor, 
for  to  day  learns  from  yesterday.  “What  is  it 
that  hatli  been  ? The  same  thing  that  shall 


* Prov.  xiv.  29. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


be.  Wliat  is  it  that  hath  been  done  ? The 
same  that  shall  be  done.”*  But  a still  more 
efficacious  means  of  becoming  prudent  is  humi- 
lity, for  pride  is  the  greatest  obstacle  to  this 
virtue.  “ Where  pride  is,  there  also  shall  be 
reproach,”  the  Holy  Ghost  tells  us ; “ but  where 
humility  is,  there  also  is  wisdom.”  f And 
throughout  the  Scriptures  we  are  frequently 
reminded  that  God  instructs  the  humble  and 
reveals  His  secrets  to  the  lowly.  Humility, 
however,  does  not  require  us  to  yield  blindly 
to  all  opinions  or  indiscreetly  to  follow  every 
counsel.  This  is  not  humility,  but  weakness 
and  instability,  against  which  the  author  of 
Eeclesiasticus  warns  us:  “Be  not  lowly  in 
thy  wisdom,  lest  being  humble  thou  be  deceived 
into  folly.”  J By  this  we  should  understand 
that  a man  must  resolutely  maintain  the  truth 
and  vigorously  support  justice,  not  allowing 
himself  to  be  carried  away  by  contrary  opinions. 
Finally,  devout  and  humble  prayer  will  afford 
us  powerful  aid  in  acquiring  the  virtue  of  pru- 
dence. For  the  principal  office  of  the  Holy 
Ghost  being  to  enlighten  the  understanding 
with  the  gifts  of  knowledge,  wisdom,  and 
counsel,  the  greater  the  humility  and  devo- 
tion with  which  we  present  ourselves  before  this 
Divine  Spirit,  the  greater  will  be  the  grace  we 
shall  receive. 

* Eccles.  i.  9.  t Prov.  xi.  2.  $ Ecclus.  xiii.  11. 


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423 


CHAPTER  XLI. 

man’s  duty  to  his  neighbok. 

MAN’S  duty  towards  his  neighbor  is  em- 
braced in  the  practice  of  charity  and 
mercy.  Read  Holy  Scripture  and  you 
will  appreciate  the  importance  of  these 
virtues.  The  writings  of  the  Prophets,  Apos- 
tles, and  Evangelists  abound  with  counsels  con- 
cerning them.  God  teaches  us  in  Isjaias  that 
one  of  the  duties  of  justice  is  charity  to  our 
neighbor.  Thus  when  the  Jews  exclaimed  : 
“ Why  have  we  fasted,  and  Thou  hast  not  re- 
garded ; have  we  humbled  our  souls,  and  Thou 
hast  not  taken  notice?”  God  answers:  “In 
the  day  of  your  fast  your  own  will  is  found,  and 
you  exact  of  all  your  debtors.  You  fast  for 
debates  and  strife,  and  strike  with  the  fist 
wickedly.  Is  this  such  a fast  as  I have  chosen? 
Is  not  this  rather  the  fast  that  I have  chosen  ? 
Loose  the  bands  of  wickedness  ; undo  the  bun- 
dles that  oppress  ; let  them  that  are  broken  go 
free  ; and  break  asunder  every  burden.  Deal 
thy  bread  to  the  hungry,  and  bring  the  needy 
and  harborless  into  thy  house.  When  thou 
shalt  see  one  naked,  cover  him,  and  despise  not 
thy  own  flesh.  Then  shalt  thou  call,  and  the 
Lord  shall  hear,  and  give  thee  rest  continually, 
and  fill  thy  soul  with  brightness.”  * The  pro- 
phet continues  to  the  end  of  the  chapter  to 

* Isaias  lviii. 


424 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


declare  the  blessings  with  which  God  will  re- 
ward this  charity  to  our  neighbor. 

Behold  how  highly  the  great  Apostle  extols 
the  virtue  of  charity  ; how  strongly  he  recom- 
mends it;  how  minutely  he  enumerates  its  ad- 
vantages. lie  gives  it  the  first  place  among 
the  virtues,  and  tells  us  that  it  is  the  bond  of 
perfection,  the  end  of  the  commandments,  and 
the  fulfilment  of  the  law.* 

It  would  be  difficult  to  say  more  in  praise  of 
charity.  Certainly  these  words  of  the  Apostle 
must  suffice  to  make  you  love  and  practise  this 
virtue,  if  you  desire  to  be  pleasing  to  God. 

Charity  was  also  a favorite  virtue  with  the 
beloved  disciple.  He  frequently  mentions  it 
in  his  epistles,  with  the  highest  praise  and  com- 
mendation. And  not  only  in  his  writings  but 
in  his  discourses  did  he  display  the  same  de- 
votedness to  this  virtue.  So  frequently  did  he 
repeat  to  his  disciples  the  touching  words,  “My 
little  children,  love  one  another/’  that  at  last, 
as  St.  Jerome  tells  us,  they  became  somewhat 
weary  of  always  hearing  the  same,  and  asked 
him  : Good  master,  why  do  you  always  give  us 
this  one  command  ? His  answer,  says  St. 
Jerome,  was  worthy  of  John;  “Because  it  is 
the  command  of  the  Lord  ; and  if  you  do  this 
alone  it  will  suffice.”  f Without  doubt,  there- 
fore, he  who  desires  to  please  God  must  fulfil 
this  great  precept  of  charity,  not  only  in  word 
but  also  in  deed.  “ He  that  hath  the  substance 

* 1 Cor.  xiii.  13  ; Coloss.  iii.  14 ; 1 Tim.  i.  5 ; Rom.  xiii.  8;  Gal. 
y.  14 

+ “ De  Scriptoribus  Eccles.” 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


425 


of  this  world/’  says  St.  John,  “and  shall  see  his 
brother  in  need,  and  shall  shut  up  his  bowels 
from  him,  how  doth  the  charity  of  God  abide  in 
him  ? My  little  children,  let  us  not  love  in  word 
nor  in  tongue,  but  in  deed  and  in  truth.”* 
Among  the  works  comprised  in  charity  to  our 
neighbor  the  following  are  the  most  important : 
advice,  counsel,  succor,  forbearance,  pardon, 
edification.  These  are  so  strongly  linked  with 
charity  that  the  practice  of  them  indicates  the 
progress  we  have  made  in  the  practice  of  charity. 

There  are  Christians  who  pretend  to  love 
their  neighbor,  but  their  charity  goes  no  far- 
ther than  words.  Others  are  willing  to  give 
advice,  but  no  more  substantial  proof  of  their 
charity.  Others  will  perform  both  these  duties, 
but  will  not  refrain  from  resenting  an  injury, 
or  will  refuse  to  bear  with  the  infirmities  of 
their  neighbor,  forgetting  that  the  Apostle  tells 
us  : “ Bear  ye  one  another’s  burdens,  and  so  you 
shall  fulfil  the  law  of  Christ.”  f Others,  again, 
while  not  resenting  an  injury,  continue  to  harbor 
it  in  their  hearts  and  will  not  freely  pardon  it. 
Finally,  many  fulfil  all  these  obligations,  yet  in 
their  words  or  conduct  they  fail  to  give  their 
neighbor  that  edification  which  is  the  most 
important  duty  of  charity.  Let  us  diligently 
examine  our  hearts  and  our  actions,  and  learn 
how  far  we  fulfil  the  precepts  of  this  virtue.  It 
may  be  said  that  he  who  simply  loves  his  neigh- 
bor possesses  the  first  degree  of  charity  ; he 
who  gives  him  good  counsel  possesses  the  second; 
he  who  assists  him  in  poverty  or  distress  pos- 

* 1 St.  John  iii.  17,  18.  t Gal.  vi.  2, 


426 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


sesses  the  third  ; he  who  patiently  bears  an  in- 
jury possesses  the  fourth  ; he  who  freely  par- 
dons it,  the  fifth  ; and  he  who  in  addition  to  all 
these  fulfils  the  duty  of  edification  to  his  neigh- 
bor has  attained  the  highest  degree  of  charity. 

The  works  of  which  we  have  just  been  treat- 
ing are  what  are  called  positive  acts  of  charity, 
which  teach  us  what  we  ought  to  do  for  our 
neighbor.  Besides  these  there  are  others,  called 
negative  duties,  which  indicate  what  we  must 
avoid  in  our  intercourse  with  our  neighbor. 
Such  are  judging  rashly,  speaking  evil,  using 
abusive  or  insulting  language,  injuring  his 
honor  or  reputation,  and  giving  scandal  by 
words  or  evil  counsel.  If  you  would  fulfil  the 
law  of  charity,  avoid  all  these. 

To  reduce  to  practice  what  we  have  said  let 
your  love  for  your  neighbor  be  like  that  of  a 
mother  for  her  child.  See  with  what  devotion 
a good  mother  cares  for  her  child  ; how  pru- 
dently she  counsels  him  in  danger  ; how  faith- 
fully she  assists  him  in  his  necessities  ; how 
ingenious  she  is  in  regard  to  his  faults,  some- 
times patiently  bearing  them,  at  other  times 
justly  punishing  them,  or  again  prudently  ignor- 
ing them.  How  earnestly  she  rejoices  in  his 
prosperity ; how  deeply  she  grieves  at  his  mis- 
fortune as  if  it  were  her  own  ! How  zealous 
she  is  for  his  honor  and  advancement ; how 
fervently  she  prays  for  him  ; how  cheerfully 
she  denies  herself  to  give  to  him ; how  utterly 
she  forgets  herself  in  her  care  of  him  ! Your 
charity  would  be  perfect  did  it  resemble  this. 
Though  you  may  not  attain  this  degree,  you 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


427 


must  nevertheless  aspire  to  it,  for  the  higher 
you  aim  the  more  noble  will  be  your  conduct. 

You  will  doubtless  urge  that  you  cannot  feel 
such  affection  for  one  who  is  a stranger  to  you. 
But  you  should  not  regard  your  neighbor  as  a 
stranger.  Behold  in  him  rather  the  image  of 
God,  the  work  of  His  divine  hands,  and  a liv- 
ing member  of  Christ.*  Hence  St.  Paul  tells 
us  that  when  we  sin  against  our  neighbor  we 
sin  against  Christ.f  Look  on  your  neighbor, 
therefore,  not  as  a man  but  as  Christ  Himself, 
or  one  of  His  living  members ; for  though  he  is 
not  so  in  body,  he  is  truly  so  by  participation 
in  the  spirit  of  Christ,  and  by  the  reward  which 
is  promised  to  us,  for  Christ  assures  us  that  He 
will  consider  as  done  to  Himself  all  that  we  do 
to  our  neighbor. 

Think  of  the  affection  which  ties  of  blood 
establish  between  creatures,  and  blush  to  let 
nature  influence  you  more  powerfully  than 
grace.  You  will  doubtless  urge  that  your  rela- 
tives are  descended  with  you  from  the  same 
ancestor,  and  that  the  same  blood  flows  in 
your  veins.  Remember,  however,  that  there  are 
closer  and  stronger  bonds  uniting  us  as  breth- 
ren in  Christ.  In  God  we  have  one  Father  ; in 
the  Church  one  mother;  and  in  Jesus  Christ 
one  Lord  and  Saviour.  Our  faith  springs  from 
the  same  source  which  enlightens  all  Christians 
and  distinguishes  them  from  the  rest  of  men. 
The  object  of  our  hope  is  the  same  kingdom, 
where  we  shall  have  but  one  heart  and  one  souk 
Baptism  has  made  us  children  of  the  same 

* Rom.  xii.  5.  1 1 Cor.  viii.  12. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Father,  brothers  and  heirs  of  the  same  inheri- 
tance. Our  souls  are  nourished  with  the  same 
Food,  the  adorable  Body  of  our  Lord  Jesus 
Christ,  Who  makes  us  one  with  Himself.  Fin- 
ally, we  are  united  in  a participation  of  the  same 
Holy  Spirit,  Who  dwells  in  us  by  faith  alone  or 
by  the  union  of  faith  and  grace,  communicat- 
ing to  us  life  and  strength.  Behold  the  union 
which  exists  between  the  members  of  the  same 
body,  however  diverse  their  functions,  because 
they  are  animated  by  one  soul ! How  much 
greater  should  be  the  union  between  the  faith- 
ful who  are  animated  by  the  same  Divine  Spirit, 
the  Holy  Ghost  Himself  ! 

But,  above  all,  ever  keep  before  your  eyes  the 
incomparable  example  of  our  Saviour’s  love  for 
us.  Why  did  He  love  us  with  so  much  tender- 
ness, devotion,  and  generosity,  if  not  to  encour- 
age us  by  His  example,  and  oblige  us  by  His 
benefits  faithfully  to  fulfil  the  precept  which  He 
has  imposed  upon  us  ? “A  new  commandment 
I give  unto  you,”  were  His  parting  words  to  His 
Apostles  on  the  night  before  He  suffered  ; 
“ That  you  love  one  another,  as  I have  loved 
you.”*  Having  treated  this  subject  at  greater 
length  in  a work  on  “ Prayer  and  Meditation,”  I 
would  refer  the  reader  to  it  for  a more  complete 
development  of  this  virtue. 

* St.  John  xiii.  34. 


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429 


CHAPTER  XLII. 
man’s  duty  to  god 
Section  I. 

Man's  Duties  in  General. 

IHE  third  and  noblest  obligation  of  justice 
comprises  man’s  duty  to  God,  which  in- 
cludes the  practice  of  the  three  theological 
virtues,  Faith,  Hope,  and  Charity,  and  of 
that  virtue  called  religion,  which  has  for  its  ob- 
ject the  worship  due  to  God.  To  love  God  with 
the  affection  of  a dutiful  son  is  the  most  secure 
way  of  fulfilling  this  obligation,  as  the  most 
effective  means  of  discharging  the  other  duties 
of  justice  is  to  be  to  ourselves  an  upright  judge, 
and  to  our  neighbor  a kind  and  watchful  mo- 
ther. Consider,  then,  how  a good  son  manifests 
his  love  for  his  father.  How  great  is  his  devo- 
tion, his  fear,  his  reverence  for  him  ! How 
faithfully  he  obeys  him ; how  zealously  and 
disinterestedly  he  serves  him  ! With  what  con- 
fidence he  goes  to  him  in  all  his  necessities  ! 
With  what  submission  he  accepts  his  correc- 
tions ! How  patiently  he  bears  his  reproofs  ! 
Only  serve  God  with  such  a heart,  and  you  will 
faithfully  fulfil  this  obligation  of  justice. 

But  to  attain  these  dispositions  the  following 
virtues  seem  to  me  indispensable  : love,  holy 
fear,  confidence,  zeal  for  the  glory  of  God, 
purity  of  intention,  the  spirit  of  prayer,  grati- 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


tude,  conformity  to  the  will  of  God,  humility 
and  patience  in  tribulation. 

Section  II. 

The  Love  of  God. 

Our  first  duty  is  to  love  God.  as  He  has  com- 
manded us,  with  our  whole  heart,  with  our 
whole  soul,  and  with  our  whole  strength.*  All 
our  faculties  must  co-operate  in  loving  and 
serving  this  great  Master  : the  understanding 
by  frequently  thinking  of  Him  ; the  will  by 
loving  Him ; the  passions  by  turning  their 
strength  to  His  service  ; the  senses  and  mem- 
bers by  zealously  executing  whatever  His  love 
prescribes. 

As  the  “ Memorial  of  a Christian  Life  ” con- 
tains a treatise  on  this  subject,  we  refer  the 
reader  to  it  for  a more  complete  discussion  of 
this  virtue. 

Section  III. 

The  Fear  of  God. 

After  love  comes  fear,  which  in  fact  springs 
from  love.  For  the  greater  our  love  for  another, 
the  greater  is  our  fear  not  only  of  losing  him 
but  of  offending  him.  See  how  carefully  a good 
son  avoids  anything  that  could  displease  his 
father,  or  a loving  wife  all  that  could  displease 
her  husband.  This  fear  is  the  guardian  of  inno* 
cence,  and  for  this  reason  we  should  deeply  em 
grave  it  in  our  souls,  praying  with  David  that 
the  Lord  may  pierce  our  flesh  with  His  holy 

* Dent.  vi.  5. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


431 


fear.*  This  pious  monarch  desired  that  even 
his  flesh  should  be  penetrated  with  this  salutary 
fear,  that,  piercing  his  heart  like  a thorn,  it 
might  unceasingly  warn  him  against  all  that 
could  lead  him  to  offend  God,  the  object  of  his 
love  and  fear.  It  was  for  this  reason  that  the 
inspired  author  wrote  : “ The  fear  of  the  Lord 
driveth  out  sin.”  f 

The  effect  of  this  fear  is  not  only  to  make  us 
avoid  actions  that  are  positively  sinful,  but  even 
those  that  may  lead  us  into  evil  or  endanger  our 
virtue.  These  words  of  Job  : “1  feared  all  my 
works,  knowing  that  Thou  didst  not  spare  the 
offender,”  J testify  how  deeply  this  sentiment 
was  imprinted  in  his  soul. 

If  we  are  penetrated  with  this  salutary  fear 
it  will  be  manifest  in  our  bearing  when  we  enter 
God’s  house,  and  particularly  in  the  presence  of 
the  Blessed  Sacrament.  We  shall  beware  of 
irreverently  talking  or  gazing  about  us  as  if  we 
were  unconscious  of  the  dread  Majesty  in  whose 
temple  we  are. 

The  love  of  God,  as  we  have  already  said,  is 
the  first  source  of  this  fear.  Servile  fear,  how- 
ever, which  is  the  fear,  not  of  a son,  but  of  a 
slave,  is,  in  a measure,  profitable,  for  it  intro- 
duces filial  fear  as  the  needle  introduces  the 
thread.  But  we  shall  strengthen  and  confirm 
this  sentiment  of  holy  fear  by  reflecting  upon 
the  incomprehensible  majesty  of  God,  the  se- 
verity of  His  judgments,  the  rigor  of  His  jus- 
tice, the  multitude  of  our  sins,  and  particularly 
our  resistance  to  divine  inspirations. 

* Ps.  cxviii.  1 20.  t Ecclus.  i.  27.  t Job  ix.  28. 


432 


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Section  IV. 

Confidence  in  God . 

To  fear  we  must  also  join  confidence.  Like 
a child  who  fears  no  danger  in  his  father’s  pro- 
tecting arms,  we  must  cast  ourselves  into  the 
arms  of  our  Heavenly  Father,  confident  that 
those  Hands  which  sustain  the  heavens  are  all- 
powerful  to  supply  our  necessities,  to  uphold  us 
in  temptation,  and  to  turn  all  things  to  our 
profit.  And  why  should  we  not  have  confi- 
dence in  God  ? Is  He  not  the  most  powerful 
as  well  as  the  most  tender  of  fathers  ? If  your 
want  of  merit  and  the  number  of  your  sins 
alarm  and  discourage  you,  fix  your  thoughts 
upon  the  goodness  of  God,  upon  His  adorable 
Son,  our  Redeemer  and  Mediator,  Who  died 
to  expiate  our  sins.  When  you  are  crossing 
a rapid  stream,  and  the  turbulence  of  the 
waters  makes  you  dizzy,  instead  of  looking 
down  at  the  torrent  you  look  above,  and  your 
steadiness  is  restored.  Do  likewise  when  dis- 
turbed by  the  fears  we  have  mentioned.  Do 
not  dwell  upon  your  unworthiness  or  your  fail- 
ings, but  raise  your  eyes  to  God  and  consider 
the  infinite  goodness  and  mercy  with  which  He 
deigns  to  apply  a remedy  to  all  our  miseries. 
Reflect  upon  the  truth  of  His  words,  for  He  has 
promised  to  help  and  comfort  all  who  humbly 
and  confidently  invoke  His  sacred  name.  Con- 
sider also  the  innumerable  benefits  which  you 
have  hitherto  received  from  His  paternal  Hand, 
and  let  His  bounty  in  the  past  inspire  you  to 
trust  the  future  to  Him  with  renewed  hope. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


433 


Above  all,  consider  the  merits  and  sufferings  of 
Christ,  which  are  our  principal  title  to  God’s 
grace  and  mercy,  and  which  form  the  treasure 
whence  the  Church  supplies  the  necessities  of  her 
children.  It  was  from  a confidence  inspired  by 
such  motives  that  the  Saints  drew  that  strength 
which  rendered  them  as  firm  as  Mount  Sion, 
and  established  them  in  the  holy  City  whence 
they  never  could  be  moved.*  Yet,  notwith- 
standing these  powerful  reasons  for  hope,  it  is 
deplorable  that  this  virtue  should  still-  be  so 
weak  in  us.  We  lose  heart  at  the  first  appear- 
ance of  danger,  and  go  down  into  Egypt  hoping 
for  help  from  Pharao  f — that  is,  we  turn  to 
creatures  instead  of  God.  There  are  many  ser- 
vants of  God  who  zealously  devote  themselves 
to  fasting,  prayer,  and  alms-giving,  but  few 
who  possess  the  confidence  with  which  the  vir- 
tuous Susanna  was  animated,  even  when  con- 
demned to  death  and  led  to  execution.!  Read 
the  Holy  Scriptures,  particularly  the  Psalms  and 
the  writings  of  the  prophets,  and  you  will  find 
abundant  motives  for  unfailing  hope  in  God. 

Section  Y. 

Zeal  for  the  Glory  of  God. 

Zeal  consists  in  promoting  the  honor  of  God 
and  striving  to  advance  the  fulfilment  of  His 
will  on  earth,  even  as  it  is  accomplished  in 
Heaven.  If  we  love  God  we  cannot  but  be 
pierced  with  grief  to  behold  so  many  not  only 
neglecting  to  obey  His  holy  will,  but  even  act- 

* Ps.  cxxiv.  1.  t Isaias  xxx.  2.  X Dan.  xiii. 


434 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


ing  in  a manner  directly  opposed  to  it.  Full 
of  'this  zeal  was  David  when  he  cried  out  : 
“The  zeal  of  Thy  house  hath  eaten  me  up.”  * 
Strive  to  imitate  him,  doing  what  you  can  by 
word  and  example,  as  well  as  by  prayer,  to  in- 
crease the  honor  of  God  through  the  salvation 
of  souls.  Thus  may  you  hope  to  receive  that 
mark,  mentioned  by  the  prophet,  which  will 
sign  you  as  one  of  the  elect  of  God.  f 

Section  VI. 

Purity  of  Intention. 

This  virtue,  which  is  intimately  connected  with 
zeal,  enables  us  to  forget  ourselves  in  all  things, 
and  to  seek  first  the  glory  of  God  and  the  ac- 
complishment of  His  good  pleasure,  persuaded 
that  the  more  we  sacrifice  our  own  interests  in 
His  service,  the  greater  advantage  and  blessing 
W'e  shall  reap.  For  this  reason  we  must  exam- 
ine the  motives  of  all  our  actions,  that  we  may 
labor  purely  for  God,  since  nothing  is  more 
subtle  than  self-love,  which  insinuates  itself 
into  every  work,  unless  we  maintain  a constant 
guard.  Many  who  now  seem  rich  in  good  works 
will  be  found  very  poor  at  the  day  of  judgment 
for  lack  of  this  pure  intention.  This  is  the  vir- 
tue which  our  Lord  symbolized  when  He  said  : 
“ The  light  of  thy  body  is  thy  eye.  If  thy  eye 
be  single  thy  whole  body  shall  be  lightsome. 
But  if  thy  eye  be  evil  thy  wdiole  body  shall  be 
darksome.”  J 

We  often  see  men  in  high  positions  lead  irre- 

* Ps.  lxviii.  10.  + Ezech.  ix.  iv.  % St.  Matt.  vi.  22,  23. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


435 


proachable  lives,  carefully  avoiding  anything  un- 
becoming the  dignity  of  their  station  ; but,  in 
many  cases,  what  is  the  motive  which  animates 
them  ? They  see  that  virtue  befits  their  posi- 
tion, and  consequently  they  practise  it,  in  order 
to  discharge  the  duties  of  their  office  in  a man- 
ner that  will  seem  becoming,  or  to  secure  pro- 
motion to  still  greater  dignities.  Thus  the 
principle  of  their  actions  is  not  the  fear  or  the 
love  of  God,  or  obedience  to  His  divine  will, 
but  their  own  interest.  Such  virtue  may  de- 
ceive men,  but  in  the  eyes  of  God  it  is  as  smoke  ; 
it  is  only  the  shadow  of  justice.  The  practice 
of  the  moral  virtues  and  the  most  severe  mor- 
tifications are  meritorious  before  God  only  in- 
asmuch as  they  are  animated  by  His  Divine  Spi- 
rit. The  temple  of  Jerusalem  contained  no- 
thing which  was  not  either  of  gold  or  covered 
with  gold.  It  is  no  less  fitting  that  in  our  souls, 
the  living  temples  of  the  Divinity,  there  should 
be  nothing  that  is  not  charity  or  animated  by  it. 
Let  us  bear  in  mind  that  God  values  the  inten- 
tion more  than  the  action,  and  that  the  sim- 
plest work  becomes  noble  when  performed  with 
a noble  intention,  while  the  greatest  will  be  of 
little  value  if  performed  from  an  indifferent 
motive. 

By  endeavoring  to  acquire  this  purity  of  in- 
tention we  shall  follow  the  example  and  coun- 
sel of  our  Saviour,  Who  tells  us  to  love  as  He 
has  loved  * — that  is,  purely  and  disinterestedly. 
Happy  is  he  who  imitates  this  noblest  charac- 
teristic of  the  divine  love.  Rapid  will  be  his 

* St.  John  xiii.  34. 


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The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


growth  in  the  likeness  of  God,  and  consequent- 
ly in  His  love,  for  resemblance  usually  begets 
love.  Let  us  rid  ourselves  of  human  respect, 
and,  keeping  God  ever  before  our  eyes,  let  us 
not  suffer  selfish  or  worldly  motives  to  mar  the 
merit  of  our  good  works  and  rob  us  of  their  re- 
ward,  wdiich  is  Heaven  and  the  possession  of 
God  Himself. 

As  it  is  a difficult  undertaking  to  acquire  this 
virtue,  we  must  earnestly  ask  it  of  God,  espe- 
cially in  the  Lord’s  Prayer,  frequently  repeating 
with  fervor  “ Thy  will  be  done  on  earth,  as  it 
is  in  Heaven.”  Beg  of  Him  to  grant  you  grace 
to  imitate  on  earth  the  purity  and  devotion 
with  which  the  heavenly  choirs  bless  and  fulfil 
His  adorable  will. 

Section  VII.. 

Prayer. 

Having  m another  work  treated  more  fully 
of  this  subject,  I would  here  only  urge  you  to 
turn  to  God  in  childlike  prayer  whenever  afflic- 
tions or  temptations  come  upon  you.  Strive, 
moreover,  to  maintain  the  spirit  of  prayer,  and 
thus  you  will  preserve  a continual  recollection 
of  God.  You  will  live  in  His  presence,  and  His 
love  will  abide  in  your  heart.  Finally,  prayer 
will  enable  you  most  faithfully  and  frequently 
to  testify  your  filial  reverence  and  love  for  your 
Heavenly  Father. 

Section  VIII. 

Gratitude : 

Gratitude,  which  should  be  in  our  hearts  and 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


437 


on  our  lips,  is  a virtue  which  excites  us  to  praise 
God  unceasingly  for  all  His  benefits  : “I  will 
bless  the  Lord  at  all  times  ; His  praise  shall  be 
always  in  my  mouth.  Let  my  mouth  be  filled 
with  praise,  that  I may  sing  Thy  glory,  Thy 
greatness  all  the  daylong.”*  Since  God  not 
only  gives  us  life,  but  continues  to  preserve  it, 
protecting  us,  lavishing  blessings  on  us,  and 
causing  all  creatures  to  serve  our  necessities  and 
desires,  is  it  not  just  that  we  should  continually 
praise  Him  ? 

Thanksgiving,  therefore,  should  be  the  first 
of  all  our  exercises,  and,  according  to  St.  Basil, 
it  should  form  the  beginning  of  all  our  prayers. 
Morning  and  evening,  and  at  all  times,  we 
should  render  thanks  to  God  for  His  many 
benefits,  general  and  particular,  of  nature  and 
of  grace;  but,  above  all,  for  the  incomprehen- 
sible benefits  of  Redemption  and  the  Blessed 
Sacrament  of  the  altar.  Let  us.  bear  in  mind 
that  in  all  these  blessings  He  sought  only  our 
welfare.  He  could  expect  nothing  ; He  desired 
nothing  from  us.  Out  of  pure  love  for  us  He 
gave  us  all. 


Section  IX. 

Obedience. 

Obedience  is  a virtue  which  renders  us  most 
pleasing  to  God,  for  it  embraces  the  perfection 
of  justice.  We  distinguish  in  this  virtue  three 
degrees;  the  first  is  obedience  to  the  command- 
ments of  God,  the  second  to  His  counsels,  the 

* Ps.  xxxiii.  1,  and  lxx.  8. 


438 


The  Sinner9 s Guide . 


third  to  His  inspirations.  The  first  is  abso- 
lutely necessary  for  salvation  ; the  second  facili- 
tates the  observance  of  the  command  ments,  for 
if  we  neglect  the  counsels,  as  far  as  our  state 
permits,  we  risk  violating  the  precepts.  If,  for 
instance,  you  avoid  needlessly  affirming  the 
truth  with  an  oath,  you  will  more  easily  escape 
perjury.  If  you  avoid  all  contentions  you  will 
assuredly  secure  peace  and  charity.  If  you  re- 
nounce your  own  worldly  possessions  you  will 
not  be  tempted  to  covet  those  of  your  neighbor. 
If  you  return  good  for  evil  you  will  be  saved 
from  the  passion  of  revenge.  Thus  we  see  that 
the  counsels  form  the  bulwarks  which  guard 
the  commandments.  If  you  would  make  your 
salvation  secure  do  not  be  satisfied  with  observ- 
ing the  commandments  only,  but  add  the  prac- 
tice of  the  counsels  as  far  as  your  state  will  ad- 
mit. In  traversing  a rapid  river  you  do  not 
cross  it  in  a direct  line,  for  you  would  be  borne 
beyond  the  place  at  which  you  wish  to  land. 
You  go  higher  up  the  stream  to  have  the  advan- 
tage of  the  tide,  and  thus  secure  a safe  passage 
to  the  point  at  which  you  desire  to  embark.  Do 
likewise  in  spiritual  things.  Aim  higher  than 
is  necessary,  so  that  if  you  fail  you  may  at  least 
reach  the  mark  of  what  is  indispensable  for  sal- 
vation. 

The  third  degree  of  obedience,  as  we  have  said, 
consists  in  fidelity  to  divine  inspirations.  Good 
servants  do  not  confine  their  obedience  to  the 
formal  commands  of  their  master,  but  promptly 
execute  the  least  indication  of  his  will.  So 
should  we  act  towards  God.  This  is  a subject, 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


439 


however,  in  which  we  are  exposed  to  grave  illu- 
sions by  mistaking  the  whisperings  of  self-love 
or  the  suggestions  of  the  devil  for  divine  inspi- 
rations. Hence  we  must  follow  the  counsel  of 
St.  John  and  “believe  not  every  spirit,  but  try 
the  spirits  if  they  be  of  God.*’  * We  have  for 
our  guidance  in  this  respect,  besides  Holy  Scrip- 
ture and  the  teaching  of  the  Saints,  this  general 
rule  : The  service  of  God  embraces  two  kinds 
of  acts,  one  of  which  is  of  our  own  choice,  the 
other  ot  obligation.  However  meritorious  works 
of  our  own  choice  may  be,  we  must  always  se- 
lect what  is  of  obligation  in  preference  to  them. 
This  is  the  teaching  of  the  Holy  Spirit  : “ Obe- 
dience is  better  than  sacrifices.  ” f God  first 
requires  of  us  the  faithful  fulfilment  of  His 
word.  When  our  obedience  in  this  respect  is 
perfect  we  may  follow  the  guidance  of  pious 
inspirations. 

This  fidelity  to  the  word  of  God  comprises, 
first,  obedience  to  the  commandments,  without 
which  there  is  no  salvation  ; secondly,  obedience 
to  our  lawful  superiors,  for  the  Apostle  tell  us, 
“ he  that  resistetli  the  power  resisteth  the  ordi- 
nance of  God  ” ; J thirdly,  obedience  to  the  laws 
of  our  state,  whether  it  be  the  priesthood,  reli- 
gion, or  marriage , and,  fourthly,  fidelity  to 
practices  which,  though  not  of  precept,  greatly 
facilitate  the  observance  of  the  commandments. 
For  example,  if  you  find,  by  daily  reflecting 
upon  your  faults  and  by  asking  God  to  in- 
spire you  with  the  most  efficacious  means  of 
correcting  them,  that  you  lead  a more  regular 

* 1 St.  John  iv.  1.  1 1 Kings  xv.  22,  X Rom.  xiii.  2. 


440 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


life,  that  you  acquire  more  control  over  your 
passions,  and  that  your  heart  becomes  more  in- 
clined to  virtue  ; while,  on  the  other  hand,  your 
neglect  of  these  precautions  weakens  your  vir- 
tue, throws  you  back  into  many  failings,  and 
exposes  you  to  the  danger  of  relapsing  into  for- 
mer evil  habits,  you  cannot  doubt  that  God  calls 
you  to  these  pious  exercises.  Experience  has 
taught  you  that  they  are  the  means  which  He 
has  chosen  to  enable  you  to  overcome  your  sins 
and  to  prevent  you  from  committing  them  again. 
God  does  not,  it  is  true,  formally  command  these 
practices,  but  He  strongly  exhorts  you  to  em- 
brace them  if  you  would  faithfully  fulfil  what 
He  does  command.  Again,  if  you  find  that 
you  are  self-indulgent  and  opposed  to  every- 
thing which  disturbs  you,  and  that  this  love  of 
comfort  hinders  your  spiritual  progress  and 
leads  you  to  neglect  good  works  because  they 
are  laborious  and  painful,  while  you  indulge  in 
culpable  actions  because  they  are  attractive  and 
pleasant,  you  must  conclude  that  God  calls  you 
to  practise  mortification  and  to  overcome  your 
appetite  for  pleasure  by  penance  and  austerities. 
Examine  all  your  propensities  in  this  way,  and 
you  will  easily  discern  what  will  be  most  profita- 
ble to  you.  Be  always  guided,  however,  in  this 
respect,  by  the  counsels  of  your  superiors. 

Thus  we  see  that  we  are  not  always  to  choose 
what  is  best  in  itself,  but  what  is  best  for  us. 
Hence  there  are  many  excellent  practices  from 
which  we  would  derive  no  advantage,  either 
because  they  are  above  our  strength  or  because 
God  does  not  call  us  to  embrace  them.  Then 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


441 


let  us  not  soar  above  our  state;  let  us  aspire  to 
what  will  strengthen  us,  not  to  what  will  over- 
whelm us.  “Lift  not  up  thy  eyes  to  riches 
which  thou  canst  not  have/’  says  Holy  Scrip- 
ture, “because  they  shall  make  themselves 
wings  like  those  of  an  eagle,  and  shall  fly 
towards  heaven.”  * 

Among  those  acts  which  we  are  free  to  do  or 
not  to  do  some  are  performed  in  public,  others  in 
secret.  The  former  procure  us  temporal  plea- 
sure or  advantage,  while  the  latter  bring  no 
such  reward.  In  general  prefer  what  is  done 
in  secret  without  any  temporal  recompense. 
You  will  thus  preserve  yourself  from  the  snares 
of  self-love,  which,  as  we  have  already  said,  in- 
sinuates itself  into  the  holiest  actions.  For 
this  reason  a certain  man  remarkable  for  his 
piety  was  accustomed  to  say:  “Do  you  know 
where  God  is  ? He  is  where  you  are  not.” 
By  this  he  meant  that  where  self-interest  has 
not  penetrated,  there  only  can  God  be  sought 
and  found.  We  do  not  counsel  you  to  follow 
this  rule  so  rigidly  as  to  exclude  good  deeds 
that  are  public  or  profitable.  Oh  ! no  ; that 
would  be  a reprehensible  extreme,  for  very 
often  there  is  great  merit  in  overcoming  the 
promptings  of  self-love  to  which  these  deeds 
expose  us.  Our  intention  is  only  to  warn  you 
against  the  artifices  of  self-love,  that  you  may 
ever  distrust  it,  particularly  when  it  presents 
itself  under  the  mask  of  virtue. 

These  three  degrees  which  constitute  the 
perfection  of  obedience  seem  to  be  indicated 

* Prov.  xxiii.  5. 


442 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


in  these  words  of  the  Apostle  : “ Be  not  con- 
formed to  this  world,  but  be  reformed  in  the 
newness  of  your  mind,  that  you  may  prove  what 
is  the  good,  and  the  acceptable,  and  the  perfect 
will  of  God.”*  The  observance  of  the  com- 
mandments is  good ; the  practice  of  the  coun- 
sels is  acceptable  ; and  fidelity  to  divine  inspira- 
tions is  perfect.  When  one  has  learned  to 
practise  these  three  degrees  he  has  attained 
the  perfection  of  obedience. 

Another  virtue,  which  may  be  considered  a 
fourth  degree  of  obedience,  is  conformity  to 
the  divine  will  in  all  things.  This  enables  us 
to  accept  from  the  hands  of  God,  with  equal 
submission,  honor  or  ignominy,  obscurity  or 
renown,  stripes  or  caresses,  health  or  sickness, 
life  or  death  ; for  we  look,  not  at  our  chastise- 
ments, but  at  Him  who  inflicts  them  through 
love  of  us.  An  earthly  father  loves  his  child 
when  he  corrects  him  no  less  than  when  he 
caresses  him.  Does  his  love  bear  any  compari- 
son to  the  love  of  the  Heavenly  Father  ? Let 
us  realize,  then,  that  all  that  comes  from  His 
hand  is  for  our  welfare,  and  we  shall  become 
so  firmly  established  in  submission  to  His  holy 
will  that  He  may  mould  us  according  to  His 
good  pleasure,  as  clay  in  the  hands  of  the  pot- 
ter. 

Thus  we  shall  no  longer  live  for  ourselves, 
but  for  God.  We  shall  be  happy  only  in  ac- 
complishing His  divine  will,  in  doing  all  things, 
in  bearing  all  things  for  His  glory,  and  acting 
at  all  times  as  His  submissive  servants.  Such 


* Rom.  xii.  2. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


443 


were  the  sentiments  of  David  when  he  said  : 
“I  am  become  as  a beast  before  Thee,  and  I am 
always  with  Thee/5*  A beast  of  burden  goes 
not  where  he  wills,  nor  rests  when  he  pleases, 
but  lives  in  complete  obedience  to  his  master. 
A Christian  should  live  in  like  submission  to 
the  will  of  His  Heavenly  Father. 

Let  us  not  forget,  however,  that  this  submis- 
sion to  God,  and  this  promptness  in  obeying  Him, 
must  ever  be  accompanied  by  prudence  and 
judgment,  so  that  we  may  not  mistake  our  own 
will  for  that  of  God.  In  most  cases  let  us  dis- 
trust what  flatters  our  own  inclinations,  and 
proceed  with  more  confidence  when  we  are  act- 
ing contrary  to  our  personal  interests. 

This  is  the  most  pleasing  sacrifice  we  can 
make  to  God.  In  other  sacrifices  we  offer  Him 
only  our  possessions.  In  this  we  immolate 
ourselves.  St.  Augustine  says  that  though 
God  is  the  Lord  of  all  that  exists,  yet  it  is  not 
every  one  who  can  say  with  the  Psalmist:  “ 0 
Lord  ! I am  thy  servant,  ” f but  those  only  who 
have  renounced  their  own  will  and  consecrat- 
ed themselves  to  His  service.  There  is,  more- 
over, no  better  disposition  for  attaining  the 
perfection  of  a Christian  life.  As  God  in  His 
infinite  goodness  is  ever  ready  to  overwhelm  us 
with  His  graces  when  we  offer  no  obstacle  to 
His  merciful  designs,  whoever  is  perfectly  con- 
fined to  His  will  can  justly  expect  an  abundance 
of  Plis  favors.  Yes,  God  wTill  treat  him  with 
great  liberality,  and  will  make  him,  like  an- 
other David,  a man  after  His  own  Heart. 

* Ps.  lxxii.  23.  t Ps.  cxv.  6. 


444 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Section  X. 

Patience  in  Afflictions, 

To  arrive  at  perfect  obedience  to  God’s  will 
there  is  no  more  efficacious  means  than  patience 
under  sufferings  of  every  kind.  “My  son,” 
says  Solomon,  “ reject  not  the  correction  of  the 
Lord,  and  do  not  faint  when  thou  art  chas- 
tised by  Him  ; for  whom  the  Lord  loveth  He 
chastiseth,  and  as  a father  in  the  son  He  pleas- 
eth  Himself.”  * St.  Paul  quotes  these  words  and 
develops  them  at  considerable  length  in  his  Epis- 
tle to  the  Hebrews  : f “Persevere,”  he  says, 
“ under  discipline.  God  deale th  with  you  as  with 
His  sons,  for  what  son  is  there  whom  the  father 
doth  not  correct  ? But  if  you  be  without  chas- 
tisement, whereof  all  are  made  partakers,  then 
are  you  bastards,  and  not  sons.  Moreover, 
we  have  had  fathers  of  our  flesh  for  instruc- 
tors, and  we  reverenced  them.  Shall  wTe  not 
much  more  obey  the  Father  of  spirits,  and 
live  ? ” 

Since,  then,  it  is  the  duty  of  a good  father  to 
correct  and  reprove  his  children,  it  is  the  duty 
of  a good  son  patiently  to  endure  the  correction, 
and  accept  it  as  a proof  of  love.  This  is  the 
lesson  which  the  Son  of  the  Eternal  Father 
taught  when  He  said  to  St.  Peter:  “ The  chal- 
ice which  My  Father  hath  given  Me,  shall  I not 
drink  it  ?”  J Were  the  chalice  of  suffering  of- 
fered us  by  another  hand  we  might  with  reason 
refuse  it;  but  the  knowledge  that  it  is  sent  by 
the  wisest  and  tenderest  of  fathers  should  suf- 

* Prov.  iii.  11,  12.  + xii.  7, 8,  9.  X St.  John  xviii.  11. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


445 


fice  to  make  ns  accept  it  without  hesitation. 
Nevertheless  there  are  Christians,  perfectly  con- 
formed to  the  divine  will  in  prosperity,  whose 
submission  vanishes  at  the  approach  of  adver- 
sity. They  are  like  cowards,  who  vaunt  their 
courage  in  time  of  peace,  but  throw  down  their 
arms  and  fly  at  the  first  sound  of  battle.  Life 
is  full  of  combats  and  trials.  Strengthen  your 
soul,  therefore,  by  salutary  reflections,  that  in 
the  hour  of  conflict  you  may  be  perfectly  sub- 
missive to  the  divine  will. 

Remember  that  the  sufferings  ’of  this  life 
bear  no  proportion  to  the  rewards  of  the  next. 
The  happiness  of  Heaven  is  so  great,  so  un- 
speakable, that  we  would  gladly  purchase  one 
hour  of  its  enjoyment  by  the  sacrifice  of  all 
earthly  pleasures  and  by  the  endurance  of  all 
earthly  sorrows.  But  we  have  not  to  buy  it 
even  at  this  rate,  for,  as  the  Apostle  says,  “ that 
which  is  at  present  momentary  and  light  of  our 
tribulation  worketh  for  us  above  measure  ex- 
ceedingly an  eternal  weight  of  glory/5  * 

Consider  also  the  different  effects  of  prosper- 
ity and  adversity.  The  former  inflates  us  with 
pride  ; the  latter  humbles  and  purifies  us.  In 
prosperity  we  often  forget  to  whom  we  owe  all 
that  we  are  ; but  adversity  usually  brings  us  to 
the  feet  of  our  Creator.  Prosperity  often  causes 
us  to  lose  the  fruits  of  our  best  actions  ; but 
adversity  enables  us  to  expiate  our  past  failings, 
and  preserves  us  against  future  relapses.  If 
you  are  afflicted  by  sickness,  consider  that  God 
has  doubtless  permitted  this  to  preserve  you 

* 2 Cor.  iv.  17. 


446 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


from  the  abuse  you  might  have  made  of  your 
health;  for  it  is  better  to  languish  under  bodily 
sufferings  than  gradually  to  destroy  the  life  of 
the  soul  by  sin. 

Certainly  God,  Who  is  so  merciful,  takes  no 
pleasure  in  our  afflictions,  but  in  His  love  He 
sends  us  these  necessary  remedies  to  cure  our 
infirmities.  Thus  suffering  purifies  the  stains 
of  sinful  pleasures,  and  the  privation  of  inno- 
cent gratifications  expiates  unlawful  indulgence. 
He  punishes  us  in  this  world,  that  He  may  re- 
ward us  in  the  next ; He  treats  us  with  merci- 
ful rigor  here  to  save  us  from  His  wrath  in 
eternity.  Hence  St.  Jerome  says  that  God’s 
anger  against  sinners  is  never  more  terrible 
than  when  He  seems  to  forget  them  during 
life.  It  was  through  fear  of  such  a misfortune 
that  St.  Augustine  prayed  : “Here,  0 Lord  ! 
burn,  here  cut,  that  Thou  mayst  spare  me  in 
eternity.”  Behold  how  carefully  God  guards 
you,  that  you  may  not  abandon  yourself  to 
your  evil  inclinations.  When  a physician  finds 
the  condition  of  his  patient  hopeless  he  in- 
dulges him  in  all  his  caprices,  but  while  there  is 
any  hope  of  recovery  lie  rigidly  restricts  him 
to  a certain  diet  and  forbids  him  all  that  could 
aggravate  his  malady.  In  like  manner  parents 
refuse  their  children  the  money  they  have  ac- 
cumulated only  for  them  when  they  find  they 
are  squandering  it  in  play  and  riotous  living. 
Thus  are  we  treated  by  God,  the  sovereign  Phy- 
sician and  most  loving  Father  of  us  all,  when 
He  sends  us  trials  and  privations. 

Consider  also  the  sufferings  which  our  Sa- 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


447 


viour  endured  from  creatures.  He  was  bruised, 
and  buffeted,  and  spat  upon.  With  what  pa- 
tience He  bore  the  mockery  of  the  multitude  ! 
With  what  resignation  he  drank  the  bitter 
draught  of  vinegar  and  gall  ! How  willingly 
He  embraced  the  death  of  the  Cross  to  deliver 
us  from  eternal  death  ! How,  then,  can  you,  a 
vile  worm  of  the  earth,  presume  to  complain 
of  sufferings  which  you  have  justly  merited  by 
your  sins — those  sins  for  which  the  spotless 
Lamb  of  God  was  immolated  ? He  would 
teach  us  by  His  example  that  unless  we  strive 
for  the  mastery  legitimately — that  is,  coura- 
geously and  perse  veringly — we  shall  not  be 
crowned.  * Moreover,  let  me  appeal  to  your 
self-interest.  Will  you  not  at  least  make  a vir- 
tue out  of  necessity  ? You  must  suffer.  You 
cannot  escape  it,  for  it  is  a law  of  your  nature. 
Can  you  resist  the  almighty  power  of  God 
when  He  is  pleased  to  send  you  afflictions  ? 
Knowing  these  truths,  and  knowing  that  your 
sins  deserve  more  than  you  can  bear,  why  will 
you  struggle  against  your  trials  ? Why  not 
bear  them  patiently,  and  thus  atone  for  your 
sins  and  merit  many  graces  ? Is  it  not  mad- 
ness to  try  to  escape  them,  and  thereby  lose  the 
blessings  they  can  give,  receiving  instead  a 
weight  of  impatience  and  misery  which  only 
adds  to  the  load  you  must  carry  ? Stand  pre- 
pared, then,  for  tribulations,  for  what  can  you 
expect  from  a corrupt  world,  from  a frail  flesh, 
from  the  envy  of  devils,  and  from  the  malice 
of  men,  but  contradictions  and  persecutions  ? 

* 2 Tim.  ii.  5. 


448 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Act,  therefore,  as  a prudent  man,  and  arm 
yourself  against  such  attacks,  proceeding  with 
as  much  caution  as  if  you  were  in  an  enemy’s 
country,  and  you  will  thus  gain  two  important 
advantages  : first,  the  trials  against  which  you 
are  forearmed  will  be  easier  to  bear,  for  “ a blow 
which  we  have  anticipated,”  says  Seneca,  “ falls 
less  heavily.”  And  this  agrees  with  the  coun- 
sel of  Wisdom  : “ Before  sickness  take  a medi- 
cine.” * Secondly,  by  anticipating  in  a spirit  of 
resignation  the  afflictions  which  God  may  send 
you,  you  offer  a sacrifice  like  that  of  Abraham, 
about  to  immolate  his  son.  Nothing,  in  fact,  is 
more  pleasing  to  God,  nothing  is  more  merito- 
rious, for  us  than  the  resignation  with  which  we 
prepare  ourselves  to  accept  all  the  trials  that 
may  come  upon  us,  either  from  the  hand  of  God 
or  the  wickedness  of  men.  Though  these  suffer- 
ings may  never  reach  us,  yet  our  good  inten- 
tion will  be  rewarded  in  the  same  way  as  if  we 
had  borne  them.  Thus  was  Abraham  reward- 
ed as  if  he  had  really  sacrificed  his  son,  be- 
cause he  was  ready  to  do  so  in  obedience  to 
God. 

Be  not  afraid,  therefore,  of  tribulations,  for 
unto  these  are  you  called,  f Remember  that 
you  are  as  a rock  in  the  midst  of  the  ocean. 
The  winds  and  waves  of  the  world  will  beat 
against  you,  but  do  you  remain  unshaken.  To 
do  good  and  to  suffer  are,  according  to  St. 
Bernard,  the  duties  of  the  Christian  life.  The 
latter  is  the  more  difficult.  Prepare  yourself, 
then,  to  fulfil  it  with  courage. 

* Ecclus.  xviii.  20.  1 1 St.  Peter  iii.  9, 14. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


449 


Let  us  observe,  in  conclusion,  that  theolo- 
gians distinguish  three  degrees  in  this  virtue. 
The  first  consists  in  patiently  bearing  afflic- 
tions ; the  second  in  desiring  to  suffer  for  the 
love  of  God ; and  the  third  in  rejoicing  to  suf- 
fer for  the  same  motive.  In  the  patience  of 
Job  we  find  an  example  of  the  first  degree. 
The  ardent  desire  of  the  martyrs  to  suffer  for 
Christ  affords  us  proof  of  the  second.  The  joy 
which  filled  the  hearts  of  the  Apostles  because 
they  were  accounted  worthy  to  suffer  reproach 
for  the  name  of  Christ  is  a bright  example  of 
the  third.*  St.  Paul  had  attained  this  sublime 
height  when  he  gloried  in  his  tribulations. f 
In  this  he  was  nobly  followed  by  many  of  the 
early  Christians,  as  we  learn  from  his  Epistle  to 
the  Corinthians,  whom  he  tells  of  the  grace 
given  to  the  Macedonians  which  caused  them 
to  experience  abundance  of  joy  in  much  tribula- 
tion. I This  is  the  highest  degree  of  virtue, 
but  it  is  not  commanded  us.  A faithful  ser- 
vant of  Christ  will  not,  however,  rest  satisfied 
with  the  first  degree,  but  will  strive  unceasingly 
to  reach  the  second  and  even  the  third.  What 
we  have  said  on  this  subject  must  not  be  in- 
terpreted to  mean  that  we  should  rejoice  at  the 
sufferings  of  others.  Oh  ! no  ; charity  requires 
us  to  sympathize  with  others  in  affliction,  espe- 
cially with  our  kindred  and  with  the  Church. 
The  mortifications  we  impose  on  ourselves  must 
not  be  extended  to  others,  but  should  render  us 
even  more  considerate  towards  them. 

* Acts  y.  41.  t Rom.  v.  3.  $ 2 Cor.  viii.  2. 


450 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


CHAPTER  XLIII. 

THE  OBLIGATIONS  OF  OUR  STATE. 

WE  shall  here  briefly  consider  the  impor- 
tance of  fidelity  to  the  duties  of  our 
state,  which  vary  according  to  our  posi- 
tion. The  duties  of  one  who  governs, 
for  example,  are  very  different  from  those  of 
one  in  subjection  ; the  duties  of  a religious  are 
very  different  from  those  of  the  father  of  a 
family. 

According  to  the  Apostle,  those  who  govern 
must  be  vigilant  in  labor  and  in  all  things.* 
This  watchfulness  is  generally  proportioned  to 
the  value  of  the  object  and  to  the  danger 
which  surrounds  it.  Now,  there  is  nothing  of 
greater  value,  and  at  the  same  time  nothing 
more  exposed  to  danger,  than  a soul.  Conse- 
quently nothing  requires  greater  vigilance  than 
the  care  which  must  be  bestowed  by  one  who  is 
charged  with  so  important  a trust. 

The  principal  duty  of  a subordinate  is  to  be- 
hold God  in  his  superiors  and  to  pay  them 
prompt  and  entire  obedience.  If  a monarch 
order  me  to  obey  his  minister,  do  I not  obey 
the  monarch  by  obeying  the  minister  ? In  like 
manner  when  God  orders  me  to  obey  my  supe- 
riors do  I not  obey  Him  by  submitting  to  them? 
This  is  the  teaching  of  St.  Paul : “ Servants,  be 
obedient  to  them  that  are  your  lords,  as  to 
Christ.”  f 

* 2 Tim.  iv.  5. 


+ Ephes.  vi.  5. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


451 


There  are  three  degrees  in  this  virtue.  The 
first  consists  in  simply  doing  what  we  are  com- 
manded, the  second  in  doing  it  willingly,  and 
the  third  in  submitting  our  judgment  to  that 
of  our  superiors  by  “ bringing  into  captivity  our 
understanding  unto  the  obedience  of  Christ.”  * 
Many  fulfil  the  commands  of  a superior,  but 
with  reluctance.  Others  obey,  but  murmur 
and  disapprove  the  command.  Others,  in  fine, 
cheerfully  obey  and  heartily  approve  whatever 
order  they  receive. 

Endeavor  that  such  may  be  your  obedience, 
bearing  in  mind  the  words  of  our  Saviour  : 
“ He  that  heareth  you  heareth  Me,  and  he  that 
despiseth  you  despiseth  Me.”f  Kef  rain  from 
all  murmuring  against  superiors,  that  you  may 
not  deserve  the  reproach  addressed  by  Moses 
to  the  Israelites:  “Your  murmuring  is  not 
against  us,  but  against  the  Lord.”  J Be- 
ware of  despising  those  in  authority,  lest  God 
should  say  to  them,  as  He  did  to  Samuel  : 
“ They  have  not  rejected  thee,  but  Me,  that  I 
should  not  reign  over  them.Ӥ  Serve  them 
with  truth  and  sincerity,  that  you  may  never 
hear  the  terrible  words. of  the  Apostle  : “You 
have  not  lied  to  men,  but  to  God,”  ||  and  that 
you  may  never  incur  the  malediction  which  fell 
upon  Ananias  and  Saphira  for  their  duplicity. 

Let  married  women  faithfully  acquit  them- 
selves of  the  duties  of  their  household,  dis- 
charging all  their  obligations  to  their  li usband  and 
children,  that  they  may  thus  be  free  to  attend  to 

* 2 Cor.  x.  5.  t St.  Luke  x.  16.  • $ Exod.  xvi.  8. 

§ 1 Kings  viii.  7.  11  Acts  v.  4. 


452 


The  Sinner's  Guide. 


practices  of  piety  without  neglecting  what  they 
owe  their  family.  That  would  be  a worthless 
devotion  which  would  occupy  the  time  which 
should  be  given  to  domestic  atfairs. 

Let  fathers  of  families  reflect  upon  the  terri- 
ble affliction  which  the  high-priest  Ileli  drew 
upon  himself  by  neglecting  to  chastise  his  chil- 
dren. Sudden  death  came  upon  himself  and 
his  sons,  and  the  priesthood  was  withdrawn 
from  his  family  for  ever.*  As  the  sins  of  chil- 
dren are  to  a certain  degree  attributable  to 
parents,  the  perdition  of  a child  not  unfre- 
quently  involves  the  condemnation  of  the  par- 
ents. How  can  he  be  called  a true  father  who, 
having  begotten  his  son  for  this  world,  fails  to 
train  him  for  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven  ? There- 
fore, advise  and  correct  your  children.  Guard 
them  from  evil  associates.  Give  them  wise  and 
virtuous  masters  Teach  them  to  love  virtue, 
and  let  them,  like  Tobias,  be  inspired  from  their 
infancy  with  the  fear  of  God.  f Do  not  gratify 
their  whims,  but  curb  their  wills  that  they  may 
become  truly  submissive.  Be  no  less  solicitous 
in  providing  for  their  spiritual  than  their  cor- 
poral wants ; for  it  is  unreasonable  to  suppose 
that  the  duty  of  parents  extends  no  farther 
than  that  of  birds  and  beasts,  whose  only  care 
is  to  feed  and  nourish  their  young.  Fulfil  the 
duties  of  a father  in  a manner  becoming  a 
Christian,  a true  servant  of  God,  and  thus  you 
will  bring  up  your  children  heirs  to  Heaven, 
and  not  slaves  of  hell. 

Heads  of  families  with  servants  to  govern 

* 1 Kings  iv.  t Tobias  ii.  13. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


453 


should  bear  in  mind  these  words  of  the  Apostle: 
“ If  any  man  have  not  care  of  his  own,  and 
especially  of  those  of  his  house,  he  hath  denied 
the  faith  and  is  worse  than  an  infidel.5’  * The 
members  of  their  household  form  the  sheep  of 
the  flock  which  has  been  confided  to  them,  and 
for  which  they  must  one  day  render  an  account. 
Precious  are  they  in  the  sight  of  the  Lord,  be- 
cause they  have  been  redeemed  by  the  Passion 
of  His  Divine  Son,  through  Whose  Blood  every 
human  being  has  received  a nobility  higher  than 
all  the  honors  of  earth. 

A good  master,  therefore,  will  carefully  en- 
deavor to  abolish  among  his  servants  all  public 
vices,  such  as  quarrelling,  gambling,  swearing, 
and  especially  sins  of  impurity.  He  will  see  that 
they  are  instructed  in  the  principles  of  their 
faith,  and  that  they  are  enabled  to  observe  the 
commandments  of  God  and  of  the  Church, 
particularly  the  precepts  to  hear  Mass  on  Sun- 
days and  holydays  of  obligation,  and  to  keep  the 
fasts  and  abstinence  prescribed  by  the  Church, 
unless  they  are  lawfully  dispensed  or  excused. 

* 1 Tim.  y.  8. 


454 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


CHAPTER  XLIV. 

THE  IMPORTANCE  AND  RELATIVE  VALUE  OF 
THE  VIRTUES. 

A MERCHANT  about  to  purchase  precious 
stones  should  learn  something  of  their 
relative  value,  if  he  would  make  a wise 
selection.  In  like  manner  a Christian 
should  have  some  knowledge  of  the  intrinsic 
merit  of  each  virtue  to  aid  him  in  making  a 
proper  choice. 

The  virtues  of  which  we  have  been  treating 
may  be  divided  into  two  classes,  the  first  of 
which  includes  the  more  interior  and  spiritual 
virtues,  the  other  those  which  are  exterior  or 
sensible.  To  the  first  belong  the  three  theolo- 
gical virtues,  which  have  God  for  their  immedi- 
ate object  ; and  the  virtues  which  facilitate  the 
accomplishment  of  our  duty  to  God,  such  as 
humility,  chastity,  mercy,  patience,  prudence, 
devotion,  poverty  of  spirit,  contempt  of  the 
world,  denial  of  our  own  will,  love  of  the  Cross 
and  mortification,  with  many  others  to  which 
we  here  give  the  name  of  virtue  in  the  broadest 
acceptation  of  the  term.  These  are  called  in- 
terior and  spiritual,  because  their  action  is 
chiefly  within  the  soul.  Nevertheless  they  are 
often  manifested  to  the  world,  as  we  see,  for 
instance,  in  the  virtues  of  charity  and  religion, 
which  produce  a number  of  exterior  works  to 
the  praise  and  glory  of  God. 

The  exterior  virtues  are  fasting,  mortifica- 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


455 


tion,  pious  reading,  yocal  prayer,  chanting  of 
the  Psalms,  pilgrimages,  hearing  Mass,  assisting 
at  the  offices  of  the  Church,  with  all  the  out- 
ward ceremonies  and  practices  of  a Christian  or 
religious  life.  Though  these  virtues,  like  the 
others,  have  their  seat  in  the  soul,  yet  their 
action  is  always  exterior,  while  the  acts  of  the 
spiritual  virtues,  faith,  hope,  charity,  humility, 
contemplation,  contrition,  or  repentance,  are 
often  entirely  within. 

There  is  no  doubt  that  the  virtues  of  the 
first  class  are  more  meritorious  and  pleasing 
to  God  than  those  of  the  second.  “ Woman, 
believe  me,”  said  our  Saviour  to  the  woman  at 
the  well,  “ that  the  hour  cometh,  and  now  is, 
when  the  true  adorers  shall  adore  the  Father  in 
spirit  and  in  truth.  For  the  Father  also  seeketh 
such  to  adore  Him.  God  is  a Spirit,  and  they 
that  adore  Him  must  adore  Him  in  spirit  and 
in  truth.”  * For  this  reason  David,  describing 
the  beauty  of  the  Church  and  that  of  a soul  in 
the  state  of  grace,  says  that  all  her  glory  is  with- 
in in  golden  borders,  clothed  round  about  with 
variety.f  And  the  great  Apostle,  writing  to 
Timothy,  says  : “ Exercise  thyself  unto  godli- 
ness, for  bodily  exercise  is  profitable  to  little ; 
but  godliness  is  profitable  to  all  things,  having 
promise  of  the  life  that  now  is,  and  of  that 
which  is  to  come.”  J According  to  St.  Thomas, 
godliness  here  signifies  the  worship  of  God 
and  charity  to  our  neighbor,  while  bodily  exer- 
cise means  fasting  and  other  austerities. 

This  is  a truth  of  which  even  the  pagan 

*St.  John  iv.  21,  23,  24.  t Ps.  xlir.  14.  $ 1 Tim.  iy.  7,  8. 


456 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


philosophers  were  not  ignorant.  Aristotle  has 
written  very  little  of  God,  yet  in  one  of  his 
works  he  expresses  himself  thus  : “If  the  gods 
take  any  interest  in  human  things,  as  we  have 
reason  to  believe  they  do,  there  is  no  doubt  that 
they  take  most  pleasure  in  what  bears  most  re- 
semblance to  themselves — that  is,  in  man’s  spirit 
or  mind  ; hence  they  who  adorn  their  minds 
with  a’ knowledge  of  truth,  and  their  souls  with 
the  beauty  and  harmony  of  virtue,  must  be 
most  pleasing  to  them.”  The  celebrated  physi- 
cian Galen  expresses  the  same  thought.  Writing 
upon  the  structure  of  the  human  frame,  and  the 
different  relations  and  functions  of  its  various 
parts,  in . which  the  wisdom  and  power  of  the 
Sovereign  Artisan  are  particularly  manifest,  he 
is  overcome  with  admiration,  and,  abandoning 
the  language  of  science  for  that  of  religion,  he 
exclaims  : “ Let  others  honor  the  gods  with 
offerings  of  hecatombs.*  As  for  me,  I shall 
honor  them  by  proclaiming  the  greatness  of  their 
power,  which  so  readily  executes  all  that  their 
wisdom  ordains  ; and  their  infinite  goodness, 
which  refuses  nothing  to  their  creatures,  but 
abundantly  provides  for  all  their  needs.”  Such 
are  the  words  of  a pagan  philosopher.  Let  us 
refer  them  to  the  true  God  ; and  what  more  can 
a Christian  say  ? The  great  Galen  unconscious- 
ly repeats  the  words  of  God’s  prophet:  “I  de- 
sired mercy,  and  not  sacrifice  ; and  the  know- 
ledge of  God  more  than  holocausts.!  The 

* Sacrifices  of  one  hundred  oxen  or  cattle  offered  by  the  pagans  to 
their  deities. 

t Osee  vi.  6. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


457 


hecatomb  of  the  pagan  may  be  considered  as  the 
imitation  of  the  holocaust  of  the  Jew.  From 
the  praise  bestowed  upon  the  interior  virtues 
we  must  not  conclude  that  the  others  are  of  lit- 
tle value.  Though  not  so  noble  as  the  former, 
they  are  nevertheless  most  efficacious  in  acquir- 
ing and  preserving  them.  For  example,  retreat 
and  solitude  guard  us  from  innumerable  sights 
and  sounds  which  endanger  the  peace  of  our 
conscience,  and  imperil  our  chastity.  We  are 
all  sensible  of  the  importance  of  silence  in  pre- 
serving devotion,  and  avoiding  those  faults  into 
which  we  are  led  by  excessive  conversation.  “ In 
the  multitude  of  words/’  says  Solomon,  “ there 
shall  not  want  sin.”*  Fasting,  when  perform- 
ed in  a state  of  grace,  besides  being  a merito- 
rious act  of  the  virtue  of  temperance,  as  it  is  at 
all  times,  expiates  our  sins,  subdues  the  inclina- 
tions of  the  flesh,  repels  our  enemy,  disposes 
us  for  prayer,  pious  reading,  and  meditation, 
and  preserves  us  from  the  excesses,  quarrels, 
and  passions  awakened  by  inordinate  indul- 
gence. As  for  pious  reading,  the  recitation  of 
the  Psalms,  assisting  at  the  divine  office,  and 
hearing  sermons,  it  is  evident  that  these  acts 
of  the  virtue  of  religion  are  most  efficacious  in 
enlightening  the  understanding  and  inflaming 
the  will  with  a desire  for  spiritual  things. 

To  acquire  and  preserve  this  precious  vir- 
tue of  devotion,  which  of  itself  disposes  us 
for  the  practice  of  all  other  virtues,  we  must 
watch  over  ourselves  with  special  vigilance.  So 
little  suffices  to  make  us  lose  this  delicate  virtue. 


* Prov.  x.  19. 


458 


Tlie  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Frivolous  conversations,  excessive  mirth,  im- 
moderate indulgence  at.  table,  slight  anger, 
unnecessary  disputes,,  curiosity  and  eagerness 
to  see  and  hear  what  does  not  concern  us,  be- 
sides many  similar  faults,  while  not  grave  in 
themselves,  weaken,  and  sometimes  destroy,  the 
spirit  of  devotion.  To  preserve  the  intense  heat 
communicated  to  it  by  the  fire  iron  must  be 
kept  continually  in  the  furnace,  or,  at  least,  it 
must  seldom  be  withdrawal.  Otherwise  it  will 
quickly  resume  its  former  temperature.  In  like 
manner,  if  we  would  keep  our  hearts  inflamed 
with  the  fire  of  devotion,  we  must  remain 
closely  united  to  God  by  the  practices  wre  have 
mentioned. 

These  reflections  will  show  us  the  importance 
of  the  second  class  of  virtues,  and  the  relation 
which  they  bear  to  the  others.  The  first  class 
forms  the  end  \ the  second  are  the  means  to 
attain  this  end.  The  first  may  be  said  to  be  the 
health  of  the  body  ; the  second,  the  medicine  to 
obtain  it.  The  first  may  be  regarded  as  the 
spirit,  the  second  as  the  body,  of  religion,  but 
absolutely  necessary  for  its  welfare. 

By  obsetwing  the  counsels  wre  have  here  laid 
dowrn  you  will  avoid  two  equally  lamentable 
errors.  One  was  that  of  the  .Pharisees  in  the 
time  of  Christ,  and  the  other  is  that  of  certain 
heretics  of  the  present  day.  The  Pharisees, 
carnal  and  ambitious  men,  accustomed  to  the 
literal  observance  of  a law  then  framed  for  a car- 
nal people,  disregarded  true  justice  and  interior 
virtues,  and  were  satisfied,  according  to  the  ex- 
pression of  the  apostle,  with  “ an  appearance  of 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


459 


godliness.”*  Under  a virtuous  exterior  they 
concealed  a corrupt  and  wicked  heart.  The 
heretics  of  our  day,  endeavoring  to  avoid  this 
error,  fell  into  the  opposite  extreme,  and  preach- 
ed contempt  for  exterior  practices.  But  the 
Catholic  Church  preserves  a happy  medium  be- 
tween both,  and,  while  maintaining  the  superi- 
ority of  the  interior  virtues,  recognizes  the  merit 
and  advantage  of  those  that  are  exterior,  just  as 
in  a well-governed  commonwealth  each  one  en- 
joys the  merit  and  prerogatives  which  belong  to 
him. 


CHAPTER  XLY. 

FOUR  IMPORTANT  RESULTS  OF  THE  PRECEDING 
DOCTRINE. 

Section  I. 

The  Necessity  of  Exterior  as  well  as  Interior 
Virtues. 

FROM  the  preceding  principles  we  can  de- 
duce four  consequences  of  great  import- 
ance in  the  spiritual  life.  The  first  is 
that  a true  servant  of  God  must  not  be 
content  to  seek  interior  virtues  only,  though 
they  are  the  noblest,  but  must  also  add  the  prac- 
tice of  exterior  virtues,  both  to  preserve  the 
first  and  perfectly  to  fulfil  the  obligations  of 
justice.  Neither  the  soul  without  the  body 

* 2 Tim.  iii.  5. 


460 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


nor  the  body  without  the  soul  constitutes  man. 
In  like  manner  true  Christianity  is  neither 
wholly  interior  nor  wholly  exterior.  The  union 
of  both  classes  of  virtues  is  as  necessary  to  the 
perfection  of  the  spiritual  life  as  the  union  of 
soul  and  body  is  to  the  perfection  of  the  natural 
life.  For  as  the  body  receives  its  life  and  dig- 
nity from  the  soul,  so  the  exterior  virtues  re- 
ceive their  life  and  merit  from  our  interior  dis- 
positions, particularly  from  charity.  There- 
fore he  who  would  become  a perfect  Christian, 
must  remember  that  the  interior  and  exterior 
virtues  are  as  inseparable  as  soul  and  body. 
Let  him  embrace  simultaneously  soul  and  body, 
the  treasure  and  the  chest,  the  vine  and  its  sup- 
port— that  is,  the  spiritual  virtues  and  their  de- 
fences, the  exterior  works  of  piety.  Other- 
wise he  will  lose  the  first,  without  which  he  can 
reap  no  profit  from  the  second.  Let  him  ever 
bear  in  mind  these  words  of  Holy  Scripture  : 
“ He  that  feareth  God  neglecteth  nothing,  and  he 
that  contemneth  small  things  shall  fall  little  by 
little.”  * The  plague  of  gnats  in  Egypt  was  suc- 
ceeded by  that  of  flies.  Beware,  then,  lest  in  de- 
spising the  sting  of  gnats — that  is,  of  small  faults 
— you  may  fall  a victim  to  flies — that  is,  to  mor- 
tal sin.  f 

Section  II. 

Discernment  in  the  Pursuit  of  Virtue. 

As  men  will  sacrifice  more  for  the  purchase  of 
gold  than  silver,  and  will  do  more  to  preserve  an 
eye  than  a finger,  so  we,  guided  by  the  spirit  of 

* Eccles.  vii.  19,  and  Ecclus.  xix.  1.  t Exod.  viii. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


461 


discernment,  should  make  more  effort  to  acquire 
the  greater  virtues  than  those  that  are  of  less 
importance.  If  we  invert  this  order,  we  intro- 
duce confusion  into  the  kingdom  of  our  soul. 
Therefore,  while  recommending  the  exterior 
yirtues  of  recollection,  modesty,  silence,  and 
fasting,  we  would  exhort  you  with  no  less  zeal 
to  the  practise  of  the  interior  virtues  of  humil- 
ity, charity,  prayer,  devotion,  and  love  of  your 
neighbor.  Exterior  faults  being  evident  to 
others,  we  consider  them  of  greater  moment 
than  interior  defects,  and  pay  more  attention  to 
their  amendment.  Moreover,  the  exterior  vir- 
tues, besides  attracting  more  attention,  excite 
more  esteem  than  the  practice  of  hope,  char- 
ity, humility,  fear  of  God  or  contempt  for 
the  world,  though  these  interior  virtues  are 
more  pleasing  in  the  sight  of  God.  “ For  man 
seeth  those  things  that  appear,  but  the  Lord  be- 
holdeth  the  heart.”  * Therefore,  as  love  of  praise 
is  one  of  the  strongest  and  most  subtle  passions, 
beware  lest  it  cause  you  to  seek  the  virtues 
which  are  most  esteemed  by  men,  to  the  neglect 
of  the  interior  virtues,  which  are  more  accept- 
able to  God. 


Section  III. 

Virtues  that  are  Less  must  sometimes  yield  to 
those  that  are  Greater . 

When  we  are  obliged  to  choose  between  two 
commandments  we  should  follow  the  more  im- 
portant. Observe  the  same  rule  with  regard  to 

* 1 Kings  xvi.  7. 


462 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


the  virtues.  Whenever  you  are  in  doubt  as  to 
which  you  should  adopt,  the  less  must  give 
place  to  the  greater,  if  you  would  avoid  confu- 
sion. “The  holy  Fathers/’  says  St.  Bernard, 
“ have  established  many  practices  proper  to  pre- 
serve and  increase  charity.  While  these  practices 
attain  this  end  they  should  be  rigidly  observed, 
but  if  at  any  time  they  conflict  with  charity,  it 
is  only  just  that  they  should  be  modified,  or 
omitted  by  proper  authority,  for  others  which 
will  more  efficaciously  promote  this  virtue*.  It 
would  certainly  be  most  unreasonable  to  observe, 
through  a motive  of  charity,  practices  which 
charity  itself  condemned.  Let  such  practices, 
therefore,  be  faithfully  observed  as  long  as  they 
promote  charity,  but  no  longer.*  In  support 
of  this  doctrine  the  great  Doctor  cites  two  pon- 
tifical decrees,  one  of  Pope  Gelasius  and  the  other 
of  Pope  Leo. 

Section  IV. 

True  and  False  Justice. 

A fourth  consequence  worthy  of  note  is  that 
there  are  two  kinds  of  justice,  one  false  and 
the  other  true.  True  justice  is  that  which  em- 
braces both  the  interior  and  the  exterior  virtues. 
False  justice  is  that  which  is  satisfied  with  a 
few  exterior  practices,  while  neglecting  the  in- 
terior virtues,  such  as  love  of  God,  humility, 
and  devotion.  This  was  the  justice  of  the 
Pharisees,  to  whom  our  Saviour  addressed  these 
terrible  words  of  reproach  and  condemnation  : 
“Woe  to  you,  Scribes  and  Pharisees,  hypocrites; 

* “ De  Prsecepto  et  Dispen.”  c.  iv. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


463 


because  you  tithe  mint,  and  anise,  and  cummin, 
and  have  left  the  weightier  things  of  the  law, 
judgment,  and  mercy,  and  faith.  Woe  to  you, 
Scribes  and  Pharisees,  hypocrites;  because  you 
make  clean  the  outside  of  the  cup  and  of  the 
dish,  but  within  you  are  full  of  rapine  and  un- 
cleanness. Woe  to  you,  Scribes  and  Pharisees, 
hypocrites;  because  you  are  like  to  whited  se- 
pulchres, which  outwardly  appear  to  men  beau- 
tiful, but  within  are  full  of  dead  men’s  bones, 
and  of  all  filthiness.”*  Such  is  the  justice  so 
frequently  condemned  in  the  Scriptures.  Speak- 
ing in  God’s  name,  Isaias  says  : “ This  people 

glorify  Me  with  their  lips,  but  their  heart  is  far 
from  Me,  and  they  have  feared  Me  with  the  com- 
mandment and  doctrines  of  men.”f  And  again : 
“ Offer  sacrifice  no  more  in  yam  : incense  is  an 
abomination  to  Me.  My  soul  hateth  your  new 
moons,  and  your  solemnities  ; I am  weary  of 
bearing  them. ”J  What  is  the  meaning  of  these 
words  ? Does  God  condemn  acts  which  He 
Himself  commanded  under  the  severest  penal- 
ties ? Does  he  condemn  the  practices  of  that 
beautiful  virtue  religion,  the  object  of  which  is 
to  honor  and  worship  Him  ? Assuredly  not ; 
but  He  condemns  the  insincerity  of  His  people 
who  content  themselves  with  the  exterior  ob- 
servance of  the  law  to  the  neglect  of  true  justice. 
This  He  declares,  for,  after  reproaching  them 
with  the  mockery  of  their  hollow  ceremonies 
and  practices.  He  tells  them:  “Wash  your- 
selves, be  clean,  take  away  the  evil  of  your 
devices  from  my  eyes:  cease  to  do  perversely. 

* St.  Matt.  xiii.  23,  25,  27.  t Isaias  xxix.  13.  $ lb.  i.  13,  14.  j 


464 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


Learn  to  do  well ; relieve  the  oppressed,  judge  for 
the  fatherless,  defend  the  widow,  and  if  your  sins 
be  as  scarlet,  they  shall  be  made  as  white  as  snow; 
and  if  they  be  red  as  crimson,  they  shall  be  white 
as  wool.  ” * 

In  still  stronger  language  the  prophet  again 
denounces  exterior  practices  that  are  not  actu- 
ated by  interior  virtue:  “He  that  sacrificeth 
an  ox,  is  as  if  he  slew  a man  ; he  that  killeth  a 
sheep.in  sacrifice,  as  if  he  should  brain  a dog ; 
he  that  offereth  an  oblation,  as  if  he  should  offer 
swines’  blood  ; he  that  remembereth  incense,  as 
if  he  should  bless  an  idol.”f  Why,  0 Lord!  these 
terrible  words  ? Why  didst  Thou  repute  as 
abominable  those  sacrifices  which  Thou  hadst  for- 
merly commanded  ? “ All  these  things,”  I hear 
Thee  say,  “have  they  chosen  in  their  ways,  and 
their  soul  is  delighted  in  their  abominations.”  J 
Behold  the  nothingness  of  exterior  practices 
which  are  not  animated  by  an  interior  spirit  of 
virtue,  but  which  are  done  solely  according  to  the 
ways  of  men.  “ Take  away  from  Me  the  tumult 
of  thy  songs,”  God  says  by  the  prophet  Amos, 
“and  I will  not  hear  the  canticles  of  thy 
harp.Ӥ  Even  more  strongly  does  He  reject 
these  works,  speaking  through  Malachias  : “I 
will  scatter  upon  your  face  the  dung  of  your 
solemnities. ”||  Do  not  these  suffice  to  show  us 
how  little  value  exterior  virtues  have  when  not 
animated  by  the  love  and  fear  of  God,  and  bv 
hatred  of  sin,  which  are  the  foundations  of  true 
justice  ? 

* Isaias  i.  16,  17,  18.  t lb.  lxvi.  3.  $ lb.  § Amos  v.  23. 

||  Mai.  ii.  3. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


465 


Still  another  reason  which  causes  God  to  re- 
pel these  external  observances,  comparing  sacri- 
fice to  murder,  incense  to  idolatry,  chanting 
to  discordant  noise,  solemn  feasts  to  dung,  is  not 
only  the  want  of  merit  in  these  practices  when 
devoid  of  an  interior  spirit,  but  the  fact  that  they 
frequently  inflate  us  with  pride,  excite  in  us 
contempt  for  others,  and  inspire  us  with  a false 
security,  a fatal  confidence,  which  effectually 
hinders  all  amendment  for  one  who  is  satisfied 
with  his  condition  and  does  not  desire  a change. 

The  prayer,  or  rather  boasting,  of  the  Pharisee, 
is  a proof  of  this:  “0  God,  I give  Thee 
thanks  that  I am  not  as  the  rest  of  men,  extor- 
tioners, unjust,  adulterers,  as  also  is  this  publi- 
can. I fast  twice  in  the  week  ; I give  tithes  of 
all  that  I possess.  ”*  Does  not  this  so-called 
prayer  illustrate  the  three  dangers  against  which 
we  warned  you  ? His  pride  and  presumption 
exclaim  : “I  am  not  as  the  rest  of  men”;  his 
contempt  of  others  says  : “I  am  not  as  this 
publican  and  his  false  security  shows  itself  in 
the  thanks  which  he  gives  to  God  for  the  life  he 
leads,  and  in  which  he  believes  himself  safe 
from  all  evil. 

Besides  that  gross  hypocrisy  which  is  the  pre- 
tence of  virtue  made  by  those  who  know  they  are 
wicked,  but  who  strive  to  conceal  their  vices, 
there  is  a more  refined  and  more  dangerous  hypo- 
crisy, which  affects  many  who  deceive  themselves 
as  well  as  others  by  a false  show  of  justice. 
Like  the  Pharisee,  they  imagine  they  are  vir- 
tuous, but  they  are  far  from  true  holiness. 

* St.  Luke  xviii.  11, 12. 


466 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


Such  hypocrisy  is  the  result  of  that  miserable 
piety  which  consists  of  external  practices  only. 
Solomon  condemned  it  when  he  said  : “ There 
is  a way  which  seemeth  just  to  a man,  but  the 
ends  thereof  lead  to  death.57*  Further  on  he  in- 
cludes this  vice  among  the  four  evils  which  he 
says  exist  in  the  world  : “ There  is  a genera- 

tion that  curseth  their  father,  and  doth  not  bless 
their  mother.  A generation  that  are  pure  in 
their  own  eyes,  and  yet  are  not  washed  from 
their  filthiness.  A generation  whose  eyes  are 
lofty,  and  their  eye-lids  lifted  up  on  high.  A 
generation  that  for  teeth  hath  swords,  and  grind- 
eth  with  their  jaw- teeth,  to  devour  the  needy 
from  ofi  the  earth,  and  the  poor  from  among 
men.55  f 

You  cannot  fail  to  recognize  among  these 
the  unhappy  victims  of  self-deception,  who, 
like  the  Pharisees,  believe  themselves  pure  when 
they  are  filled  with  corruption. 

This  false  confidence  is  so  dangerous  that 
there  is  much  more  hope  for  a hardened 
sinner  who  recognizes  his  condition  than 
for  one  who  thus  deceives  himself.  Acknowl- 
edging our  failings  is  the  first  step  towards 
amendment.  But  how  can  a sick  man  be 
cured  who  maintains  that  he  is  well,  and 
therefore  refuses  all  remedies?  For  this  reason 
our  Saviour  declares  to  the  Pharisees  that  “ pub- 
licans and  sinners  shall  go  before  them  into  the 
kingdom  of  Heaven. 55 J And  He  utters  the  same 
truth  still  more  forcibly  in  the  Apocalypse  : 
“I  would  thou  wert  cold  or  hot.  But  because 

* Prov.  xiv.  12.  t lb.  xxx.  11,  12,  13,  14.  * St.  Matt.  xxi.  31. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


467 


thou  art  luke-warm,  and  neither  cold  nor  hot, 
I will  begin  to  vomit  thee  out  of  my  mouth.”  * 

You  marvel,  doubtless,  why  a soul  that  is  cold 
should  be  less  displeasing  to  God  than  one  that 
is  luke-warm.  The  reason  of  this  is  because 
coldness,  or  the  state  of  the  sinner  devoid  of 
all  virtues,  is  more  easily  cured  than  luke-warm- 
ness,  which  represents  the  man  of  few  virtues, 
and  these  only  exterior  practices  without  the 
life  of  charity.  The  man  who  is  loaded  with 
sins  can  be  brought  to  realize  his  malady,  and  so 
induced  to  take  the  proper  remedies.  But  the 
man  who  is  luke-warm  rests  on  that  false  security 
which,  as  was  the  case  with  the  Pharisee,  leads 
him  to  believe  that  he  possesses  all  the  treasures 
of  virtue.  Though  these  soulless  practices 
avail  him  naught,  he  will  not  realize  his  sad 
state,  and  consequently  will  take  no  measures 
for  amendment.  To  know  that  this  is  the  true 
meaning  of  the  text,  read  what  follows  : “ Thou 
sayest,  1 am  rich,  and  made  wealthy,  and  I have 
need  of  nothing;  and  thou  knowest  not  that  thou 
art  wretched,  and  miserable,  and  poor,  and  blind, 
and  naked.”  f Do  not  these  words  again  show 
the  Pharisee  who  thanks  God  for  His  spiritual 
riches  when  he  is  poor,  destitute  of  all  virtue, 
inflated  with  pride,  and  blind  to  his  own  failings? 

There  is  nothing  in  Holy  Scripture  more 
frequently  extolled  than  this  true  justice,  no- 
thing more  frequently  condemned  than  this 
Pharisaical  justice.  Hence  we  have  dwelt  at 
some  length  on  the  excellence  of  the  first  and 
the  danger  of  the  second.  For  human  nature 

* Apoc.  iii.  15,  16.  t lb.  17 


468 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


is  the  same  to-day  as  it  was  in  the  time  of  the 
Prophets  and  the  Apostles,  whose  teachings  on 
this  subject  are  contained  in  the  Scriptures. 
We  have  the  same  inclinations,  the  same  in- 
heritance of  original  sin,  and  consequently  our 
vices  and  failings  must  be  the  same,  for  like 
causes  produce  like  effects. 

The  car oal  Jews  believed  that  they  fulfilled 
their  duty  to  God  by  a literal  observance  of 
fasts  and  ceremonies.  Many  Christians  of  the 
present  day  resemble  them,  for  they  hear  Mass 
on  Sundays,  assist  at  sermons  and  the  divine 
offices,  daily  recite  a number  of  vocal  prayers, 
and  even  fast  on  Saturdays  in  honor  of  the 
Blessed  Virgin ; and  yet  they  are  no  less  eager 
in  the  pursuit  of  worldly  honors  and  in  grati- 
fying their  passions.  They  are  no  less  subject 
to  anger  than  others  who  observe  none  of  these 
practices.  They  forget  the  obligations  of  their 
state  ; they  are  careless  of  the  salvation  of  their 
children  and  servants ; they  readily  yield  to 
feelings  of  hatred  and  revenge  ; they  harbor 
resentment  for  trifling  offences,  and  refuse  to 
speak  to  their  neighbor  ; they  withhold  the 
wages  of  their  servants  and  defraud  their  cre- 
ditors. If  their  honor  or  interest  be  touched 
the  hollowness  of  their  virtue  will  soon  be 
apparent.  Many  of  them  are  profuse  in  pray- 
ers, but  very  sparing  of  alms.  Others  could 
never  be  persuaded  to  forego  the  observance 
of  abstinence  on  Wednesdays  and  days  of  devo- 
tion ; but  yet  they  indulge  with  impunity  in 
detraction  and  calumny.  They  scruple  to  eat 
the  flesh  of  animals  which  God  does  not  pro- 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


469 


hibit  them,  but  they  do  not  hesitate  to  prey 
upon  the  honor  and  reputation  of  their  neigh- 
bor, which  God  wishes  to  be  sacred  to  every 
Christian.  These  and  similar  inconsistencies 
are  frequent  in  our  day  among  persons  of  every 
class. 

That  you  may  profit  by  the  preceding  coun- 
sels, let  each  one  study  his  own  spiritual  con- 
dition, that  he  may  learn  the  remedies  which 
will  profit  him  most.  There  are  general  direc- 
tions which  apply  to  all,  such  as  those  pertain- 
ing to  charity,  humility,  patience,  or  obedience. 
Others,  again,  are  special  and  apply  only  to 
certain  classes  and  certain  conditions.  For 
example,  it  is  necessary  to  recommend  to  a 
scrupulous  person  greater  freedom  of  con- 
science ; to  one  who  is  lax,  greater  restraint. 
With  a timid  soul,  inclined  to  discouragement, 
we  must  treat  of  the  divine  mercy,  while  a pre- 
sumptuous soul  should  be  led  to  reflect  on  the 
divine  justice.  Those  who  give  themselves 
wdiolly  to  exterior  practices  should  be  made 
cultivate  interior  virtues,  while  those  who  are 
entirely  devoted  to  the  latter  should  be  taught 
the  value  of  the  former  when  animated  by  the 
proper  dispositions.  They  will  thus  learn  to 
appreciate  the  merit  of  both  kinds  of  virtue, 
and  therefore  to  avoid  the  extremes  into  which 
many  fall  who  devote  themselves  so  closely  to 
one  as  to  neglect  the  other.  The  interior  virtues, 
however,  especially  the  fear  of  God  and  a hatred 
of  sin,  must  be  particularly  cultivated.  Happy 
is  he  in  whose  soul  these  virtues  are  deeply 
engraved.  He  may  build  without  fear  upon 


470 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


such  a foundation,  for  they  are  the  beginning 
of  true  justice.  But  without  them  he  is  a 
blind  and  miserable  soul,  however  numerous 
his  exterior  practices  of  piety. 


CHAPTER  XLYI. 

THE  DIFFERENT  VOCATIONS  IN  THE  CHURCH. 

THE  virtues  of  the  Christian  life  being  very 
numerous,  a good  Christian  does  not 
necessarily  give  himself  to  all  with  the 
same  ardor.  Some  prefer  to  cultivate  the 
virtues  which  have  God  for  their  direct  object, 
and  therefore  embrace  a contemplative  life. 
Others  prefer  the  virtues  which  enable  them  to 
be  most  useful  to  their  neighbor,  and  conse- 
quently choose  an  active  life.  Others,  in  tine, 
prefer  the  virtues  which  more  directly  benefit 
their  own  souls,  and  therefore  enter  the  mo- 
nastic life.  Again,  as  all  virtues  are  means  of 
acquiring  grace,  different  persons  adopt  differ- 
ent means.  Many  seek  to  obtain  it  by  fasting 
and  like  austerities  ; others  by  almsgiving  and 
works  of  mercy,  and  others  by  prayer  and 
meditation.  Of  this  latter  exercise  there  are 
also  different  methods,  which  vary  according  to 
the  character  of  souls  or  the  subjects  chosen. 
The  best  kind  of  meditation  is  always  that  from 
which  one  derives  most  profit  and  devotion. 

In  this  matter  beware  of  a grave  error  into 
which  pious  persons  sometimes  fall.  Deriving. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


471 


much  profit  from  certain  means,  many  imagine 
that  there  are  no  others  which  lead  to  God. 
Consequently  they  would  enforce  the  same 
methods  upon  every  one,  and  think  all  in  error 
who  follow  a different  path.  Thus,  one  who 
gives  himself  wholly  to  prayer  thinks  it  the 
only  means  of  salvation.  Another,  given  to 
fasting  and  corporal  mortification,  sees  no  merit 
in  any  other  practices  of  piety.  Those  who 
lead  contemplative  lives  imagine  that  all  who 
are  engaged  in  an  active  life  are  in  great  danger, 
and  even  go  so  far  as  to  hold  exterior  virtues  in 
contempt.  The  followers  of  the  active  life, 
having  no  experience  of  all  that  passes  between 
God  and  the  soul  in  the  sweet  calm  of  contem- 
plation, do  not  sufficiently  appreciate  its  value, 
and  approve  it  only  as  far  as  it  includes  the 
practice  of  exterior  works.  One  who  gives 
himself  exclusively  to  mental  prayer  is  very 
apt  to  think  any  other  form  of  prayer  unprofit- 
able ; and,  on  the  contrary,  he  who  has  devoted 
himself  to  vocal  prayer  will  often  argue  that  it 
is  more  meritorious  because  it  is  more  laborious. 

Thus  each  one,  impelled  by  ignorance  or  un- 
conscious pride,  extols  himself  by  commending 
the  practices  to  which  he  is  most  given.  Just 
as  a savant  will  praise  the  science  which  is  the 
object  of  his  study,  and  depreciate  the  merit 
of  all  others,  so  many  extol  one  virtue  at  the 
expense  of  all  the  rest.  The  orator  will  tell 
you  that  there  is  nothing  comparable  to  elo- 
quence ; the  astronomer,  that  there  is  nothing 
superior  to  the  study  of  the  heavenly  bodies. 
In  fact,  the  theologian,  the  linguist,  the  philo- 


472 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


sopher,  the  commentator,  will  each  in  his  turn 
otter  good  reasons  to  prove  the  pre-eminence  and 
incontestable  superiority  of  the  science  he  pro- 
fesses. Similar,  though  less  open,  is  the 
struggle  between  the  advocates  of  the  different 
virtues ; each  one  would  have  his  method  pre- 
vail over  that  of  others,  believing  that  as  it  has 
proved  profitable  to  him,  it  must  prove  so  to 
all.  Hence  arise  unfavorable  judgments  upon 
the  lives  of  others,  divisions  and  disputes 
among  brethren.  Such  was  the  error  of  the 
Corinthians  in  the  early  ages  of  the  Church. 
They  had  been  favored  with  different  graces, 
and  each  one  extolled  his  own  above  the  rest. 
The  gifts  of  prophecy,  of  tongues,  of  interpret- 
ing the  Scripture,  of  working  miracles,  were 
each  pref erred  by  those  who  had  received  them.* 
There  is  no  more  efficacious  argument  against 
this  illusion  than  that  of  the  Apostle,  who 
declares  that  all  graces  and  gifts  are  equal  as  to 
their  source,  for  they  proceed  from  the  same 
Holy  Spirit,  though  they  differ  in  their  object. 
“In  one  Spirit  were  we  all  baptized  into  one 
body,”  f says  the  Apostle.  Belonging  thus  to 
the  same  Head,  we  all  partake  of  His  dignity 
and  glory,  and  in  this  we  are  equally  His  mem- 
bers, though  there  is  a diversity  of  gifts  and 
duties  among  us.  This  diversity  should  not 
cause  us  to  look  with  disfavor  on  those  who 
seem  less  gifted,  for  each  has  his  value  as  a 
member  of  Christ.  Thus  the  members  of  the 
human  body  have  not  the  same  duties,  but  yet 
each  has  its  own  peculiar  power  that  another 

* 1 Cor.  xii.  t lb.  13. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


473 


does  not  possess.  All  are  important,  because 
all  are  necessary  for  the  general  good.  “ If  the 
foot  should  say  : Because  I am  not  the  hand,  I 
am  not  of  the  body  ; is  it  therefore  not  of  the 
body  ? And  if  the  ear  should  say  : Because  I 
am  not  the  eye,  I am  not  of  the  body  ; is  it 
therefore  not  of  the  body  ?”  * In  this  manner 
the  Apostle  speaks  to  the  Corinthians,  and 
continues  his  comparison  to  prove  that  we  must 
not  be  misled  by  our  preferences  to  judge  that 
whoever  differs  from  us  is  not  right,  or  that 
gifts  differing  from  ours  have  not  an  important 
place  in  the  designs  of  God. 

This  diversity  is  due  partly  to  nature  and 
partly  to  grace.  We  say  that  it  is  due  partly  to 
nature  ; for  though  grace  is  the  principle  of 
every  spiritual  being,  yet  it  is  shaped  according 
to  the  condition  of  the  soul  in  which  it  dwells, 
just  as  water  takes  the  form  of  the  vessel  into 
which  it  is  poured.  Thus,  calm,  peaceful  tem- 
peraments are  more  naturally  suited  to  a con- 
templative life  ; those  of  an  ardent,  energetic 
nature  are  better  fitted  for  an  active  life  ; while 
persons  of  strong,  robust  health  find  more 
profit  in  a laborious  life  of  penance.  Thus  is 
the  marvellous  goodness  of  God  made  manifest. 
Desiring  to  communicate  Himself  to  all,  He 
has  willed  that  the  ways  which  lead  to  Him 
should  be  proportioned  to  the  diversities  in 
the  characters  and  conditions  of  men. 

Grace  is  the  second  cause  of  this  variety 
which  the  Holy  Spirit,  the  Author  of  all  grace, 
has  created  for  the  greater  beauty  and  perfec- 

* 1 Cor.  xii.  15,  and  following. 


474 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


tion  of  His  Church.  As  the  different  senses 
and  members  are  requisite  for  the  beauty  and 
perfection  of  the  human  body,  so  a diversity  of 
graces  is  necessary  for  the  complete  harmony 
and  beauty  of  the  Church.  If  the  faithful  all 
practised  the  same  virtues,  how  could  they  be 
called  a body  which  necessarily  consists  of 
different  members  ? “ If  the  whole  body,” 

says  the  Apostle,  “were  the  eye,  where  would 
be  the  hearing  ? If  the  whole  were  hearing, 
where  would  be  the  smelling  ? And  if  they  all 
were  one  member,  where  would  be  the  body.”  * 

We  find  the  same  beautiful  variety  in  the 
works  of  nature,  where  the  Sovereign  Creator 
wisely  apportions  all  gifts  or  qualities  so  that 
the  lack  of  one  perfection  is  compensated  by 
the  possession  of  another.  The  peacock,  which 
has  a most  discordant  note,  possesses  a beautiful 
plumage  ; the  nightingale  delights  the  ear,  but 
lias  no  charms  for  the  eye  ; the  horse  bears  us 
where  we  will  and  is  valuable  in  camp  and 
field,  but  is  rarely  used  for  food  ; the  ox  is 
useful  for  farm  and  table,  but  lias  scarcely  any 
other  qualities  to  recommend  him ; fruit-trees 
give  us  food,  but  have  little  value  for  building  ; 
forest-trees  yield  no  fruit,  but  afford  us  the 
necessary  material  for  erecting  our  dwellings. 
Thus  we  do  not  find  all  qualities  or  all  perfec- 
tions united  in  one  creature,  but  that  variety 
among  them  which  constitutes  the  beauty  of 
nature  and  binds  them  to  one  another  by  a 
mutual  and  necessary  dependence. 

God  has  willed  that  the  order  and  beauty 

* 1 Cor.  xii.  17, 19. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


475 


which  we  admire  in  nature  should  exist  in  the 
works  of  grace.  For  this  reason  He  has  en- 
dowed His  Church  with  that  variety  of  virtues 
which  form  a most  symmetrical  body,  a most 
beautiful  world,  the  most  perfect  harmony. 
Hence  some  of  the  members  of  this  great  body 
give  themselves  to  a life  of  contemplation; 
others  to  an  active  life,  to  obedience  or  penance, 
to  religious  studies,  to  the  service  of  the  sick 
and  the  poor,  or  to  other  works  of  mercy. 

We  find  the  same  variety  in  the  religious 
orders  of  the  Church  ; all  aspire  to  the  same 
end  but  pursue  different  paths.  Some  follow 
the  way  of  penance  ; others  that  of  poverty. 
Some  choose  a contemplative  life  ; others  an 
active  life.  Some  labor  in  the  midst  of  the 
world  ; others  seek  obscurity  and  solitude. 
The  rules  of  one  prescribe  a certain  revenue ; 
those  of  another  the  strictest  poverty.  Never- 
theless they  are  all  animated  by  the  same  spirit, 
all  pursue  the  same  end.  This  variety  extends 
even  to  the  members  of  the  same  order  ; for 
while  certain  religious  are  engaged  in  the 
choir,  others  study  in  their  cells  ; others  devote 
themselves  to  manual  labor  ; others  hear  con- 
fessions ; while  others  are  engaged  in  the  tem- 
poral affairs  of  the  community.  What,  then, 
are  all  these  but  the  several  members  of  one 
body,  the  different  notes  of  one  grand  harmony, 
the  various  elements  which  contribute  to  the 
beauty  and  perfection  of  the  Church  ? Why 
has  the  lute  several  chords,  the  organ  numerous 
pipes,  but  to  produce  greater  variety  and  har- 
mony ? For  this  reason  the  patriarch  Jacob 


476 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


gave  his  son  Joseph  the  coat  of  many  colors,* 
and  God  commanded  that  the  curtains  of  the 
tabernacle  should  be  of  violet,  purple,  and  scar- 
let twice  dyed,  diversified  with  embroidery,  f In 
both  of  these  objects  we  behold  an  image  of 
that  beautiful  variety  which  prevails  in  the 
Church.  Let  us,  then,  beware  of  judging  others 
because  their  virtues  are  not  ours,  or  of  expect- 
ing all  to  follow  the  same  path.  This  would  be 
destroying  the  body  of  the  Church,  rending  the 
coat  of  Joseph.  It  would  be  exacting  the  duty 
of  the  eyes,  or  the  hands,  or  the  feet  from  all 
the  members  of  the  body.  In  the  words  of  the 
Apostle  if  the  whole  body  were  the  eye,  where 
would  be  the  hearing  ; or  if  it  were  the  ear, 
where  would  be  the  eyes  ? Can  the  eyes  re- 
proach the  feet  for  being  blind,  or  the  feet  re- 
proach the  eves  for  not  bearing  the  burden  of 
the  body  ? No  ; it  is  necessary  that  the  feet 
toil  on  the  ground,  and  that  the  eyes  be  above 
them,  protected  from  all  that  could  fatigue  or 
sully  them.  Nor  is  the  duty  of  the  eyes,  not- 
withstanding their  repose,  less  important  than 
that  of  the  feet.  The  work  of  the  pilot  who 
stands  at  the  helm  is  no  less  necessary  than  that 
of  the  sailors  who  manage  the  ropes  and  sails. 
We  must  not  judge  of  an  action  by  the  labor  it 
requires,  but  by  its  value  and  the  effects  it  pro- 
duces. Thus,  you  wrould  not  say  that  the  work 
of  a laborer  is  more  important  in  a common- 
wealth than  that  of  the  statesman  who  wisely 
directs  the  government. 

If  we  seriously  weigh  these  considerations  we 

♦ Gen.  xxxvii.  3.  t Exod.  xxvi.  1. 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


477 


shall  learn  to  respect  all  vocations.  We  shall 
not  reproach  the  hand  for  not  being  the  foot, 
nor  the  foot  for  not  being  the  hand.  We  shall 
understand  the  truth  of  the  Apostle’s  words 
when  he  tells  us  that  the  beauty  and  perfection 
of  the  body  result  from  the  diversity  of  its 
members. 


CHAPTER  XL VII. 

THE  VIGILANCE  AND  CARE  NECESSARY  IN  THE 
PRACTICE  OF  VIRTUE. 

SINCE  the  rule  of  life  which  we  have  pro- 
posed includes  so  many  counsels  and  so 
many  virtues,  and  since  our  intelligence  is 
incapable  of  embracing  a multitude  of 
things  at  one  time,  it  will  be  well  to  apply  our- 
selves to  the  practice  of  one  virtue  which,  in  a 
measure,  comprehends  the  rest,  or  supplies  for 
all  that  may  be  wanting  to  them.  Such  is  the 
virtue  of  continual  vigilance  in  all  our  words 
and  actions. 

An  ambassador  about  to  address  a king 
studies  not  only  what  he  will  say,  but  how  he 
will  say  it,  and  strives  to  regulate  his  gestures 
and  his  whole  bearing  so  that  he  may  present 
himself  to  the  monarch  in  the  most  becoming 
manner.  With  more  reason  a Christian,  who  is 
the  subject  of  the  King  of  kings,  must  watch 
over  himself  at  all  times,  whether  he  speaks  or 
is  silent,  at  prayer  or  at  table,  at  home  or  abroad. 


478 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


He  must  measure  all  his  actions,  all  liis  words, 
by  the  law  of  His  Divine  Master. 

We  find  this  virtue  of  vigilance  frequently 
recommended  in  the  sacred  Scriptures.  “ Keep 
thyself  and  thy  soul  • carefully. ” * “Walk 
solicitous  with  thy  God.”  f That  is,  be  careful 
to  avoid  everything  contrary  to  His  will.  The 
many  eyes  of  the  mysterious  creatures  men- 
tioned in  Ezechiel  J also  represent  the  vigilance 
with  which  we  must  guard  our  soul. 

Besides  the  many  dangers  to  which  we  are 
exposed,  the  difficulty  and  delicacy  of  the  work 
of  salvation  render  this  vigilance  indispensable, 
particularly  for  one  who  aspires  to  the  perfec- 
tion of  the  spiritual  life.  For  to  live  in  union 
with  God,  to  abide  in  the  flesh  and  yet  to  be 
free  from  its  corruption,  and  to  preserve  one’s  self 
from  the  snares  of  the  world  “without  offence 
unto  the  day  of  Christ,”  § require  not  only 
the  assistance  of  grace  but  the  greatest  vigilance 
over  ourselves.  Follow  in  this  respect  the  wise 
counsel  of  Seneca:  “ Always  imagine  yourself 
in  the  presence  of  one  for  whom  you  entertain 
the  greatest  respect,  and  refrain  from  all  that 
you  would  not  do  in  His  presence.”  || 

A no  less  salutary  practice  is  to  live  as  if  each 
day  were  the  last  of  our  lives,  and  the  evening 
were  to  bring  us  before  the  tribunal  of  God  to 
render  an  account  of  all  our  actions.  But  the 
most  efficacious  means  of  all  is  to  walk  continu- 
ally in  the  presence  of  God,  Who  is  everywhere, 
and  to  act  in  all  things  with  the  obedience  due 

* Dent.  iv.  9.  t Micheas  vi.  8 $ Ezech.  i.  18. 

§ Phil.  i.  JO,  U Epist.  25. 


Thfi  Sinner’s  Guide . 


479 


to  so  great  a Master,  Who  is  the  Witness  and  the 
Judge  of  all  our  works.  Frequently  implore 
the  grace  to  avoid  all  that  would  render  us  un- 
worthy of  His  divine  presence.  Thus  the  vigi- 
lance which  we  here  counsel  has  two  ends  : 
first,  to  fix  the  eyes  of  our  soul  upon  God,  and 
unceasingly  to  offer  Him  on  the  altar  of  our 
hearts  a sacrifice  of  adoration,  respect,  praise, 
devotion,  thanksgiving,  and  love  ; secondly,  to 
watch  over  all  our  thoughts,  words,  and  actions, 
that  we  may  in  all  things  follow  the  guidance 
of  His  will.  Though  this  vigilance  is  not  easily 
acquired,  nevertheless  we  must  endeavor  to 
practise  it  as  uninterruptedly  as  possible.  Cor- 
poral exercises  are  no  obstacle  to  it,  for  with 
fidelity  to  the  practice  of  it  the  heart  will 
always  be  free  to  withdraw  from  them  for 
awhile,  and  seek  its  repose  in  the  wounds  of 
Jesus  Christ. 


CHAPTER  XLYIII. 

THE  COURAGE  NECESSARY  IN  THE  PRACTICE 
OF  VIRTUE. 

Section  I. 

The  Necessity  of  Courage . 

THE  preceding  chapter  furnishes  us  with 
eyes  to  discern  our  duty,  and  this  will 
furnish  us  with  arms  or  courage  to  por- 
form  it. 

There  are  two  obstacles  to  virtue  which  vigil- 
ance and  courage  will  overcome.  The  first  is 


480 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


the  difficulty  of  discerning  what  is  good  from 
what  is  evil ; and  the  second  is  the  labor  of 
embracing  the  former  and  overcoming  the  lat- 
ter. Vigilance  meets  the  first  difficulty  ; forti- 
tude the  second.  These  two  virtues  are  indis- 
pensable, for  without  vigilance  we  are  blind, 
without  courage  we  are  helpless. 

The  courage  of  which  we  are  here  treating  is 
not  the  cardinal  virtue  of  fortitude  which  calms 
our  fears  and  strengthens  us  in  affliction,  but  is 
rather  a disposition  of  the  soul  which  enables 
us  to  triumph  over  all  obstacles  to  good.  For 
this  reason  it  ever  accompanies  virtue,  sword  in 
hand  to  vanquish  all  her  foes. 

As  the  blacksmith  requires  a hammer  to  beat 
the  hard  iron  and  shape  it  according  to  his  will, 
so  do  we  need  courage,  the  spiritual  hammer, 
with  which  we  overcome  the  difficulties  in  the 
road  to  virtue  and  fashion  our  souls  after  our 
divine  Model.  Without  this  quality  we  can 
no  more  pursue  virtue  than  a blacksmith  can 
work  without  his  hammer.  For  what  virtue  is 
there  that  can  be  acquired  without  effort  ? 
Consider  them  one  after  another,  prayer,  fast- 
ing, temperance,  obedience,  poverty  of  spirit, 
chastity,  humility,  and  you  will  find  that  all 
present  some  difficulty  springing  from  self-love, 
the  world,  or  the  devil.  Therefore,  if  you  sin- 
cerely desire  to  advance  in  virtue,  consider  the 
words  spoken  to  Moses,  by  the  God  of  all  virtue 
and  strength,  as  directly  addressed  to  you  : 
•“  Take  this  rod  in  thy  hand,  wherewith  thou 
shalt  do  the  signs  ” * that  will  deliver  My  peo- 

* Exod.  iv.  17. 


The  Sinner's  Guide • 


481 


pie.  Be  assured  that  as  the  rod  of  Moses  en- 
abled him  to  effect  the  glorious  deliverance  of 
the  children  of  Israel,  so  the  rod  of  courage  will 
enable  you  to  work  no  less  striking  wonders, 
and  to  free  yourself  from  your  enemies,  the 
world,  the  flesh,  and  the  devil.  Keep  this  rod, 
therefore,  ever  in  your  hand,  for  without  it  you 
will  be  utterly  helpless. 

Avoid,  too,  an  illusion  into  which  beginners 
in  the  spiritual  life  frequently  fall.  Having 
read  in  certain  books  of  the  ineffable  consola- 
tions of  the  Holy  Spirit,  and  the  joys  of  God’s 
service,  they  persuade  themselves  that  the  path 
of  virtue  is  filled  with  delights,  and  therefore, 
instead  of  entering  it  armed,  to  meet  their  ene- 
mies, they  set  out  as  if  for  a festival.  Truly 
the  love  of  God  is  full  of  sweetness,  but  the 
way  which  leads  to  it  contains  much  that  is 
bitter,  for  self-love  must  first  be  conquered,  and 
there  is  nothing  harder  to  nature  than  to  fight 
against  it  and  all  that  it  claims.  This  is  the 
lesson  we  should  learn  from  the  prophet  who 
says  : “ Shake  thyself  from  the  dust,  arise,  sit 
up,  0 Jerusalem.”  * Shake  thyself  from  the 
dust  of  earthly  affections  ; arise  and  combat 
before  thou  canst  sit  and  rest. 

It  is  also  true  that  God  favors  with  ineffable 
consolations  souls  who  faithfully  labor  for  Him, 
and  renounce  the  pleasures  of  the  world  for 
those  of  Heaven.  But  this  absolute  renuncia- 
tion is  necessary,  for  while  we  refuse  to  sacrifice 
the  joys  of  this  life  we  shall  seek  in  vain  for 
the  joys  of  the  Holy  Spirit.  The  manna  was 

* Isaias  lii.  2. 


482 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


given  to  the  children  of  Israel  only  when  they 
had  consumed  the  food  which  they  brought  with 
them  from  Egypt. 

If,  then,  we  do  not  arm  ourselves  with  courage, 
our  pursuit  of  virtue  will  be  fruitless.  Rest 
is  attained  only  through  labor ; victory  only 
through  combat ; joy  only  through  tears ; and 
the  sweetness  of  God’s  love  only  through  hatred 
of  self.  For  this  reason  the  Holy  Spirit, 
throughout  the  Proverbs  of  Solomon,  so  fre- 
quently condemns  sloth  and  negligence,  and 
so  strongly  commends  vigilance  and  courage  as 
the  safeguards  of  virtue. 

Section  II. 

Means  of  acquiring  Courage . 

Solomon  had  reason  to  exclaim  : “ Who  shall 
find  a valiant  woman  ? Far  and  from  the  utter- 
most coasts  is  the  price  of  her.”  * What,  then, 
shall  we  do  to  acquire  courage,  which  is  of  such 
importance  and  which  is  no  less  difficult  than 
the  other  virtues  ? 

We  must  first  reflect  upon  the  priceless  merit 
of  courage,  for  a quality  which  helps  us  acquire 
all  virtues  must  be  inestimable  in  value. 

Men  are  chiefly  driven  from  the  practice  of 
virtue  by  the  difficulties  it  presents.  “ The 
slothful  man  saith  : There  is  a lion  in  the  way, 
and  a lioness  in  the  roads.  The  fool  foldeth 
his  hands  together,  and  eateth  his  own  flesh, 
saying:  Better  is  a handful  with  rest  than 
both  hands  full  with  labor  and  vexation  of 


* Prov.  xxxi.  10. 


The  Sinner’s  Guide . 


483 


mind.”*  If,  therefore,  the  obstacles  to  virtue 
discourage  us  and  turn  us  from  good,  what  is 
more  necessary  for  us  than  courage  ? And 
who  will  regret  any  effort  to  acquire  an  aid 
which  will  strengthen  him  to  conquer  the 
kingdom  of  virtue,  and,  after  it,  the  kingdom 
of  Heaven  ? “ From  the  days  of  John  the 

Baptist  until  now  the  kingdom  of  Heaven  suf- 
f ereth  violence,  and  the  violent  bear  it  away.  ” f 
Finally,  courage  conquers  self-love,  which  gives 
place  to  the  love  of  God,  or  rather  to  God  Him- 
self, “ for  he  that  abideth  in  charity  abideth  in 
God,  and  God  in  him.”  J 

Stimulate  your  courage,  moreover,  by  con- 
templating the  fortitude  of  so  many  Christians 
who  cheerfully  embraced  poverty,  mortification, 
humiliations,  for  love  of  Christ.  Many  of  them 
so  loved  suffering  that  they  sought  it  as  eagerly 
as  the  worldling  seeks  pleasure,  or  as  the  mer- 
chant seeks  gain,  preferring  poverty  to  riches, 
hunger  to  abundance,  labors  and  the  cross  to 
rest  and  comfort.  The  Church  daily  presents 
for  our  consideration  such  heroic  souls,  not  only 
that  we  may  worthily  honor  them,  but  that  we 
may  be  excited  to  imitate  them.  Consider,  too, 
the  greatness  of  the  courage,  the  heroism  dis- 
played by  the  martyrs.  There  is  no  kind  of  tor- 
ture or  suffering  which  they  did  not  endure. 
Some  were  burned  alive ; others  were  torn  to 
pieces  by  wild  beasts  ; many  had  their  flesh  torn 
from  their  bodies  with  red-hot  pincers  ; some 
were  cast  into  caldrons  of  boiling  oil ; others 

* Prov.  xxvi.  13,  and  Eccles.  iv,  5,  6. 

% 1 St.  John  iv.  16. 


t St.  Matt.  xi.  12. 


484 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


were  compelled  to  walk  barefoot  on  burning 
coals,  or  were  tied  to  the  tails  of  wild  horses 
and  dragged  through  thickets  and  briars  or 
over  sharp  stones.  It  would  be  almost  im- 
possible to  enumerate  all  the  tortures  invented 
by  the  malice  of  devils  to  conquer  the  courage 
of  the  servants  of  God.  We  read  of  a martyr 
in  Nicodemia  who  was  scourged  so  cruelly  that 
every  blow  brought  away  a piece  of  the  flesh, 
leaving  the  bones  exposed  to  view,  and  into 
these  cruel  wounds  the  executioner  poured  salt 
and  vinegar ; and,  finding  that  life  was  not  yet 
extinct,  they  laid  the  mangled  body  upon  a slow 
fire,  turning  it  from  side  to  side  with  iron  hooks 
until  the  soul  took  its  flight  to  God.  Eead  the 
lives  of  these  brave  soldiers  of  Christ,  and  your 
courage  will  be  reanimated ; you  will  grow 
ashamed  of  the  little  you  have  done  for  God  or 
your  soul. 

They  were  human  as  well  as  we  are.  Their 
bodies  were  as  sensitive  as  ours  to  sufferings. 
They  had  the  same  God  to  assist  them  ; they 
hoped  for  the  same  reward  to  which  we  aspire. 
If  eternal  life  cost  them  so  much,  shall  we  refuse 
to  mortify  the  irregular  desires  of  the  flesh  to 
attain  this  blessed  end  ? Shall  we  not  have  the 
courage  to  fast  one  day,  when  we  see  them  al- 
most dying  of  hunger  ? Shall  we  refuse  to  re- 
main for  a short  time  on  our  knees  in  prayer, 
when  they  continued  to  pray  for  their  enemies 
during  long  hours  of  agony,  even  when  nailed 
to  the  cross  ? Shall  we  refuse  to  resist  our  in- 
clinations and  passions,  when  they  unhesitatingly 
abandoned  their  bodies  to  the  tortures  of  the 


The  Sinner’s  Guide. 


485 


executioner  ? They  endured  without  murmur- 
ing the  solitude  and  suffering  of  dark  prisons, 
and  shall  we  refuse  our  soul  a few  moments 
solitude  in  prayer  each  day  to  amend  the  past 
and  to  prepare  for  the  future.  If  they  sub- 
mitted their  bodies  to  the  rack,  to  the  wheel, 
to  fire  and  the  sword,  shall  we  refuse  to  chastise 
ours  for  the  love  of  Christ  ? 

If  these  examples  do  not  move  you,  lift  your 
eyes  to  the  Cross  and  contemplate  Him  Who 
hangs  there  in  torments  for  love  of  you.  u Think 
diligently,”  says  the  Apostle,  “ upon  Him  that 
endured  such  opposition,  that  you  be  not  wea- 
ried, fainting  in  your  minds.”  * It  is  a marvel- 
lous example  in  every  respect.  For  if  we  con- 
sider His  sufferings,  none  could  be  greater  ; if  we 
consider  the  Victim,  none  could  be  more  noble  ; 
if  we  consider  the  motive,  it  was  the  high- 
est degree  of  love  ; for  He  Who  was  Innocence 
itself  suffered  and  died  to  redeem  us  from  our 
iniquities.  The  heavens  were  filled  with  awe 
at  the  spectacle ; the  earth  trembled ; the 
rocks  were  rent  ; all  nature  was  moved.  Will 
man  alone  be  insensible  and  refuse  to  imitate 
the  example  which  God  came  on  earth  to  give  ? 
Shall  we  be  so  ungrateful,  so  slothful,  so  pre- 
sumptuous as  to  wish  to  win  Heaven  by  a life 
of  luxurious  ease  when  suffering  and  labor  were 
the  portion  of  God  on  earth  and  of  all  His  fol- 
lowers. Hear  the  words  in  which  St.  Paul  de- 
scribes the  sufferings  of  those  faithful  servants 
of  Christ,  the  Prophets,  the  Apostles,  the  Mar- 
tyrs, the  Confessors,  the  Virgins,  and  all  the 

* Heb.  xii.  3. 


486 


The  Sinner's  Guide . 


Saints : “ Others  had  trial  of  mockeries  and 
stripes,  moreover  also  of  bands  and  prisons. 
They  were  stoned  ; they  were  cut  asunder  ; they 
were  tempted  ; they  were  put  to  death  by  the 
sword  ; they  wandered  about  in  sheep-skins,  in 
goat-skins,  being  in  want  distressed,  afflicted  : 
of  whom  the  world  was  not  worthy  ; wandering 
in  deserts,  in  mountains,  and  in  dens,  and  in 
caves  of  the  earth.55  * If  such  were  the  lives  of 
the  Saints  and  of  Him  who  was  the  Saint  of 
saints,  what  reason  have  you  to  think  that  you 
can  reach  Heaven  by  the  way  of  pleasure  and 
amusement  ? If  you  would  share  their  glory, 
you  must  participate  in  their  labors.  If  you 
would  reign  with  them  in  Heaven,  you  must 
suffer  with  them  on  earth. 

May  these  considerations  reanimate  your  cou- 
rage, dear  Christian,  and  stimulate  you  to  fol- 
low, as  far  as  your  grace  will  enable  you,  such 
bright  examples. 

We  cannot,  therefore,  better  conclude  this 
work  than  in  the  words  of  our  Saviour  : “ If 
any  man  will  come  after  Me,  let  him  deny  him- 
self, and  take  up  his  cross  daily  and  follow  Me.”  f 
In  this  brief  counsel  you  will  find  a summary 
of  His  divine  doctrine,  and  the  secret  of  attain- 
ing the  perfection  taught  in  the  Gospel.  Thus, 
while  the  body  may  be  a prey  to  hardships  and 
labors,  the  soul  will  enjoy  a paradise  of  peace, 
and  this  interior  sweetness  will  enable  you  cheer- 
fully to  embrace  all  the  sufferings  of  the  exte- 
rior life. 

* Heb.  xi.  36,  37,  38. 


t St.  Luke  ix.  23. 


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